Can You Negotiate a Wage Garnishment?

I don’t think that there are many people who are not looking at some tough financial decisions. Florida may be “open for business” but many businesses depend on customers who are not there to do business right now. Just as travel to Europe from the United States is shut down because of out-of-control infections, the tourism that has supported much of the state isn’t going to come flooding into our airports and cruise ports any time soon. Nobody wants the cost of a Disney World vacation to be a mandatory 14-day quarantine upon returning home. The ripple effect of missing customers is rippling throughout Florida’s economic ecosystem. 

There’s a lot going on right now, and unfortunately, much of it can have a negative impact on your already impacted finances. Wage garnishments are still being processed, and while you can’t have a garnishment without a court proceeding and a summons, the person serving the summons is only obligated to serve at the last known address – and they might not try too hard to serve you. So very often, the first you hear about a garnishment is when your employer informs you that they’ve been ordered to take money out of your check.

You Have Rights

Just because your employer has been ordered to garnish your wages doesn’t mean that it’s a done deal. Yes, an employer has a duty to garnish, and can also charge you the costs incurred by garnishing your wages. You, however, still have rights that must be upheld by law. 

  • Mirroring federal law, Florida laws state that your creditors may not garnish so much of your income that you can’t meet the basic necessities of life.
  • The amount of your income that your creditors may garnish may not exceed 25 percent or the amount that your income exceeds the annual minimum wage income by a multiplier of 30 – whichever is less.
  • Disposable income is calculated after taxes, SSI, SDI and other withholdings are taken, and also any court-ordered withholdings such as alimony, child support, restitution, or other prior garnishments.
  • Your employer may not charge you for administrative costs above $5.00 for the first deduction and $2.00 for every deduction thereafter.
  • Your employer may not terminate you for having your wages garnished.

Most of all, you have the right to contest your garnishment. For instance, if you are unemployed, the garnishment is moot – there are no wages to garnish. However, if you are working reduced hours or have taken a pay cut, you may show the court that your pay is not what it once was. 

Is It Possible to Negotiate a Wage Garnishment?

You can negotiate a wage garnishment, and your creditor may be open to that especially if you have less money coming in. Ideally, you should get in touch with them once you are served and try to negotiate a wage garnishment from there. They’ll still garnish your wages, but at a lower negotiated rate. However, if default judgement has been entered and you can prove that your income is lower or even that you have sources of income that are exempt from consideration, you’ll have to prove it in court. Here are a few steps to help you negotiate a wage garnishment.

  • When you are acting for yourself in negotiating a wage garnishment, it’s called pro se. That doesn’t mean that you should go without some sort of legal advice. Take advantage of our free initial consultation to get individualized advice to help you get a firm footing.
  • Gather your evidence. Nothing is going to move forward on your say-so alone. You need evidence of your financial situation to prove your case. Evidence would be your current hours and pay, a list of your vital expenses – rent or mortgage payments, utility bills, expenses for food and transportation, and even medical insurance premiums and medical expenses such as prescription costs and copays.
  • Make sure that your exempted income is NOT on the table. Exempted income includes retirement benefits from a pension or Social Security, disability benefits, veteran’s benefits, public assistance, workers’ compensation and other sources.

You will have to prove that you can’t possibly make the garnishment work, and that they are asking for an amount that could lead to a dismissal of their garnishment if they choose to pursue it. Something is better than nothing, and if the plaintiff asks for more than the legally acceptable maximum, they run the risk of having their case dismissed.

Too Deep in Debt?

If you don’t have any breathing room from making minimum payments on numerous debts, it’s time to consider a bankruptcy. You don’t have to step up and pull the trigger, a mock bankruptcy can take you through the steps and let you see the big picture. You can decide to go through with the real thing or not. Remember, the automatic stay stops ALL collection actions, and can give you breathing room when the payments are piling up faster than you can handle. If you could make it on your current income if you didn’t have to pay out some here, some there, and all that over there, then bankruptcy might be a step in the right direction.

We Can Help!

Since 2009, Van Horn Law Group has been helping the people of Broward, Miami-Dade, and Palm Beach counties deal with their debts. We’re here for you through the tough times and will help you negotiate or eliminate your debts. Bankruptcy is a specialty practice, but our experienced attorneys know that bankruptcy is not the only answer. Your first consultation is still free, via voice or video conference app, and we’ll give you our best legal advice, tailored for your situation. Get in touch with any of our offices in Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, or Miami and let’s get your finances back in shape and your debts handled. We care about all of our clients, and always do our utmost to help each and everyone. Call today!

Article Name
Can You Negotiate a Wage Garnishment?
You can negotiate a wage garnishment, and your creditor may be open to that especially if you have less money coming in. Here are a few steps to help you negotiate a wage garnishment.
Chad Van Horn
Van Horn Law Group
Van Horn Law Group
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Chad Van Horn

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