Start My Answer

Stop Wage Garnishment in Hawaii

Sarah Edwards | July 05, 2023

Sarah Edwards
Legal Expert
Sarah Edwards, BS

Sarah Harris is a professional researcher and writer specializing in legal content. An Emerson College alumna, she holds a Bachelor of Science in Communication from the prestigious Boston institution.

Edited by Hannah Locklear

Hannah Locklear
Editor at SoloSuit
Hannah Locklear, BA

Hannah Locklear is SoloSuit’s Marketing and Impact Manager. With an educational background in Linguistics, Spanish, and International Development from Brigham Young University, Hannah has also worked as a legal support specialist for several years.

Summary: Hawaii has complex wage garnishment laws that can take a big part of your income if you lose a debt lawsuit. Luckily, there are ways to avoid wage garnishment like responding to a lawsuit with an Answer or settling the debt before your court date. SoloSettle makes the debt settlement process easier.

A wage garnishment is a legal order that creditors use to seize part of your income after you stop paying your bills. Fortunately, creditors can’t garnish your wages simply because you missed a few payments. They must sue you and win their case before they can begin the wage garnishment process.

Of all fifty states, Hawaii has some of the most complex (and confusing) laws concerning wage garnishment. If you’re a resident of Hawaii, it’s smart to understand how these laws work if you’re facing a debt lawsuit or think a creditor may sue you in the future.

Avoid wage garnishment through debt settlement.

Settle with SoloSettle

Make an Offer

Hawaii’s wage garnishment laws are notoriously complex

While the federal government has provisions for wage garnishments, states can set their own limitations, too. States that establish wage garnishment limitations must choose limits equal to or less than the federal government’s rules. Under HI Rev Stat § 652-1, creditors may garnish wages according to the below amounts:

  • 5% of the first $100 in disposable earnings per month.
  • 10% of the next $200 in monthly disposable earnings.
  • 20% of all sums above $200 monthly.

However, before applying the Hawaii rules, the employer must compare the garnishment amount with the federal limitations on wage garnishment. Under 15 U.S. Code § 1673, the garnishment is the lesser of:

  • 25% of disposable earnings.
  • The amount weekly disposable earnings exceed 30 times the federal minimum wage, which is currently $7.25 hourly.

In both the federal and Hawaii limitations on wage garnishments, disposable earnings are equal to the individual’s earnings after any required government withholdings like federal and state taxes.

Voluntary withholdings, like deductions for retirement accounts and healthcare and life insurance plans, are not part of the mandatory exclusions. You cannot deduct them from your disposable earnings.

As you can see, the rules for calculating wage garnishment in Hawaii aren’t straightforward. Let’s consider an example of how wage garnishment works in Hawaii so that you can see the calculation process.

Example: Ross has a credit card with Tulip Bank with a $2,295 balance. He stopped making payments a few months ago when he had a major car repair bill. Tulip Bank decided to sue him for the outstanding balance and won the case. Now, it wants to garnish Ross’s salary. Ross’s monthly disposable earnings are $4,000. Under Hawaii’s guidelines, he’ll pay ($100 x 5%) + ($200 x 10%) + ($3,700 x 20%), or $765. Under federal guidelines, he would pay 25% of his disposable earnings, or $1,000 per month. The other federal alternative is about $3,130 per month, or $782.50 per week, calculated by $1,000 - (30 x $7.25). In this example, the Hawaii wage garnishment applies because it’s the lesser of the state and federal limitations. Ross will pay $765 for three months until he pays off the debt.

Let’s look at another example to see when the federal guidelines would apply for wage garnishment in Hawaii.

Example: A payday loan company, Yes Payday, is suing Chandler in Hawaii for a $900 loan he didn’t repay. Yes Payday wins its lawsuit, and the court awards a judgment it can use to garnish Chandler’s wages. Chandler has $240 in weekly disposable earnings, or about $960 monthly. Under the Hawaii guidelines, Chandler would pay ($100 x 5%) + ($200 x 10%) + ($660 x 20%), or $157 monthly. Under the federal guidelines, Chandler would pay 25% of his weekly earnings, or $60 weekly. The other federal alternative is $240 - (30 x $7.25 per hour), or $22.50 weekly. When converted into monthly amounts, the federal options are about $240 or $90 monthly. Since the federal amount of $90 monthly is less than the $157 under Hawaii state guidelines, the federal guidelines are appropriate to the case. Chandler will pay $90 monthly to Yes Payday under wage garnishment until he fully satisfies the debt in ten months.

Wage garnishment in Hawaii isn’t automatic

A creditor cannot garnish your wages unless it obtains a monetary judgment against you. To get a judgment, it must sue you in court. If you receive a Court Summons for unpaid debt, you shouldn’t ignore it. You’ll need to take specific steps to protect yourself.

First, review the contents of the Summons. It will include your creditor’s Complaint, which will list its grievances against you. The grievances will consist of the amount you owe and information about your account. If you find any inaccuracies, note them on your account statement.

Your next step is to file an Answer. An Answer is your formal response to the court and your creditor. Filing an Answer ensures that your creditor can’t ask the judge to grant a default judgment against you. Instead, the judge must review your defense before deciding on the outcome of your case.

If you’ve never filed an Answer, watch SoloSuit’s video explaining the process.

Next, you’ll want to resolve the debt before your court date. You can either repay the debt entirely or attempt to settle it.

Paying your debt off before your court date stops the lawsuit in its tracks. Your creditor must drop its case since there’s nothing to sue you for. There will be no judgment against you; you won’t need to worry about wage garnishment.

However, a settlement might be the better option if you don’t have enough money to pay off your debt.

Avoid wage garnishment through debt settlement

In a settlement, you offer the creditor a portion of the obligation in a lump-sum payment. If the creditor accepts your offer and signs an agreement that releases you from the remainder of the debt, it must drop the lawsuit against you.

To learn more about how to settle your debt in Hawaii, check out this video:

SoloSettle, powered by SoloSuit, is a tech-based approach to debt settlement. Our software helps you send and receive settlement offers until you reach an agreement with the collector. Once an agreement is reached, we’ll help you manage the settlement documentation and transfer your payment to the creditor or debt collector, helping you keep your financial information private and secure.

Re quest a hearing to stop wage garnishment

If you think your wages are being wrongfully garnished in Hawaii, you can file a motion to dissolve or modify the garnishment, according to HI Rev Stat § 652-1.5(f). If the court determines there are any issues with the current garnishment, it will be dissolved. If, however, the court rules that the creditor’s claim is valid, the garnishment order will remain in effect.

Don’t allow a creditor to garnish your wages

A wage garnishment can severely dent your monthly income, making it hard to afford your other obligations, like rent and groceries. You can avoid wage garnishment by resolving your debt before your court date. If you no longer owe the debt, there is no basis for a case against you.

SoloSettle helps people avoid a monetary judgment through debt settlement — try it today!

What is SoloSuit?

SoloSuit makes it easy to fight debt collectors.

You can use SoloSuit to respond to a debt lawsuit, to send letters to collectors, and even to settle a debt.

SoloSuit's Answer service is a step-by-step web-app that asks you all the necessary questions to complete your Answer. Upon completion, we'll have an attorney review your document and we'll file it for you.

>>Read the FastCompany article: Debt Lawsuits Are Complicated: This Website Makes Them Simpler To Navigate

>>Read the NPR story on SoloSuit. (We can help you in all 50 states.)

How to answer a summons for debt collection in your state

Here's a list of guides for other states.

All 50 states.

Guides on how to beat every debt collector

Being sued by a different debt collector? Were making guides on how to beat each one.

We have answers

Join our community of over 40,000 people.

You can ask your questions on the SoloSuit forum and the community will help you out. Whether you need help now are are just look for support, we're here for you.

Get Started

Win against credit card companies

Is your credit card company suing you? Learn how you can beat each one.

Going to Court for Credit Card Debt — Key Tips

How to Negotiate Credit Card Debts

How to Settle a Credit Card Debt Lawsuit — Ultimate Guide

Get answers to these FAQs

Need more info on statutes of limitations? Read our 50-state guide.

Why do debt collectors block their phone numbers?

How long do debt collectors take to respond to debt validation letters?

What are the biggest debt collector companies in the US?

Is Zombie Debt Still a Problem in 2019?

SoloSuit FAQ

If a car is repossessed, do I still owe the debt?

Is Portfolio Recovery Associates Legit?

Is There a Judgment Against Me Without my Knowledge?

Should I File Bankruptcy Before or After a Judgment?

What is a default judgment?— What do I do?

Summoned to Court for Medical Bills — What Do I Do?

What Happens If Someone Sues You and You Have No Money?

What Happens If You Never Answer Debt Collectors?

What Happens When a Debt Is Sold to a Collection Agency

What is a Stipulated Judgment?

What is the Deadline for a Defendants Answer to Avoid a Default Judgment?

Can a Judgement Creditor Take my Car?

Can I Settle a Debt After Being Served?

Can I Stop Wage Garnishment?

Can You Appeal a Default Judgement?

Do I Need a Debt Collection Defense Attorney?

Do I Need a Payday Loans Lawyer?

Do student loans go away after 7 years? — Student Loan Debt Guide

Am I Responsible for My Spouses Medical Debt?

Should I Marry Someone With Debt?

Can a Debt Collector Leave a Voicemail?

How Does Debt Assignment Work?

What Happens If a Defendant Does Not Pay a Judgment?

How Does Debt Assignment Work?

Can You Serve Someone with a Collections Lawsuit at Their Work?

What Is a Warrant in Debt?

How Many Times Can a Judgment be Renewed in Oklahoma?

Can an Eviction Be Reversed?

Does Debt Consolidation Have Risks?

What Happens If You Avoid Getting Served Court Papers?

Does Student Debt Die With You?

Can Debt Collectors Call You at Work in Texas?

How Much Do You Have to Be in Debt to File for Chapter 7?

What Is the Statute of Limitations on Debt in Washington?

How Long Does a Judgment Last?

Can Private Disability Payments Be Garnished?

Can Debt Collectors Call From Local Numbers?

Does the Fair Credit Reporting Act Work in Florida?

The Truth: Should You Never Pay a Debt Collection Agency?

Should You Communicate with a Debt Collector in Writing or by Telephone?

Do I Need a Debt Negotiator?

What Happens After a Motion for Default Is Filed?

Can a Process Server Leave a Summons Taped to My Door?

Learn More With These Additional Resources:

Need help managing your finances? Check out these resources.

How to Make a Debt Validation Letter - The Ultimate Guide

How to Make a Motion to Compel Arbitration Without an Attorney

How to Stop Wage Garnishment — Everything You Need to Know

How to File an FDCPA Complaint Against Your Debt Collector (Ultimate Guide)

Defending Yourself in Court Against a Debt Collector

Tips on you can to file an FDCPA lawsuit against a debt collection agency

Advice on how to answer a summons for debt collection.

Effective strategies for how to get back on track after a debt lawsuit

New Hampshire Statute of Limitations on Debt

Sample Cease and Desist Letter Against Debt Collectors

The Ultimate Guide to Responding to a Debt Collection Lawsuit in Utah

West Virginia Statute of Limitations on Debt

What debt collectors cannot do — FDCPA explained

Defending Yourself in Court Against Debt Collector

How to Liquidate Debt

Arkansas Statute of Limitations on Debt

Youre Drowning in Debt — Heres How to Swim

Help! Im Being Sued by My Debt Collector

How to Make a Motion to Vacate Judgment

How to Answer Summons for Debt Collection in Vermont

North Dakota Statute of Limitations on Debt

ClearPoint Debt Management Review

Indiana Statute of Limitations on Debt

Oregon Eviction Laws - What They Say

CuraDebt Debt Settlement Review

How to Write a Re-Aging Debt Letter

How to Appear in Court by Phone

How to Use the Doctrine of Unclean Hands

Debt Consolidation in Eugene, Oregon

Summoned to Court for Medical Bills? What to Do Next

How to Make a Debt Settlement Agreement

Received a 3-Day Eviction Notice? Heres What to Do

How to Answer a Lawsuit for Debt Collection

Tips for Leaving the Country With Unpaid Credit Card Debt

Kansas Statute of Limitations on Debt Collection

How to File in Small Claims Court in Iowa

How to File a Civil Answer in Kings County Supreme Court

Roseland Associates Debt Consolidation Review

How to Stop a Garnishment

Debt Eraser Review

Do Debt Collectors Ever Give Up?

Can They Garnish Your Wages for Credit Card Debt?

How Often Do Credit Card Companies Sue for Non-Payment?

How Long Does a Judgement Last?

​​How Long Before a Creditor Can Garnish Wages?

How to Beat a Bill Collector in Court

Not sued yet?

Use our Debt Validation Letter.

Out Debt Validation Letter is the best way to respond to a collection letter. Many debt collectors will simply give up after receiving it.

Let's Do It

It only takes 15 minutes.

And 50% of our customers' cases have been dismissed in the past.

"Finding yourself on the wrong side of the law unexpectedly is kinda scary. I started researching on YouTube and found SoloSuit's channel. The videos were so helpful, easy to understand and encouraging. When I reached out to SoloSuit they were on it. Very professional, impeccably prompt. Thanks for the service!" - Heather

Get Started