Wage Garnishment Happens: What to Do About It

It’s not just student loans that can hit you right in the paycheck, there are other circumstances where your wages can be garnished. Very simply, as long as there is a judgment against you, your wages can be garnished to pay the debt.

  • Child support
  • Spousal support
  • Student loans
  • Creditor’s judgements – credit cards, medical bills, auto loans, personal loans, etc.
  • Taxes
  • Defaulted lease – car or dwelling
  • Delinquent bills

Wage garnishment is the collection tactic of last resort where a creditor goes to court in order to obtain a judgment saying that a) you owe a sum of money, and b) the creditor or owner of the debt has not been able to collect by other means, and c) that your wages can be garnished to pay that debt. It can be a nasty shock, especially since you may not have seen or been able to responds to a summons. If you ignored a summons… well. You’re sure not going to do that again.


 

WAGE GARNISHMENT RIGHTS AND EXEMPTIONS

Federal law governs how much – if any – of your wages can be garnished. First, let’s look at what is elible for garnishment according to US Department of Labor.

Can be Garnished:

  • Wages, salaries, commissions and bonuses for personal services.
  • Pension and disability payments, or disbursements from a retirement fund.

By federal law, garnishment can’t take more than 25 percent of your net pay – this is the amount left after your deductions for taxes, SSI, unemployment and other items are taken. Furthermore, if you are making no more than thirty times the federal minimum wage, your income can’t be garnished. For spousal support or child support, between 50 to 65 percent of your wages may be garnished, depending on circumstances. There are also exemptions to the garnishment under Florida law, and these will take precedence for garnishment actions brought in this state.

Can’t be Garnished in Florida:

  • The first $750 per week made by the head of household – requires an affidavit filed with the court.
  • Social Security, pension payments, 401K accounts, retirement benefits, and veterans’ benefits.
  • Worker’s compensation, unemployment benefits, disability benefits.
  • Medical savings accounts, college savings funds, life insurance proceeds.
  • Earned income tax credits.

 

The problem with garnishment is that it often happens with other financial problems already in place. Instead of just rocking the boat, a garnishment – or even more than one – can sink you. If you think your wages might be garnished, and there is no way you can pay, filing for bankruptcy might be the best option you have, If you have a garnishment already in effect, you can still file for bankruptcy and have the automatic stay suspend the garnishment until your debts can be discharged in your bankruptcy case. This is not something to mess around with, if your filing is dismissed, that garnishment goes right back into effect. If you have something like this happening to you, our offices in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach are open seven days a week to help you out with a free initial consultation. Call us, and let’s get started putting your life back on track.

About Chad Van Horn

Chad T. Van Horn, Esq. is a South Florida business leader and founding partner attorney of Van Horn Law Group, P.A. Through a combination of dedicated philanthropy, spirited entrepreneurship and legal expertise, he applies his resources and network to helping people. Learn more about Chad Van Horn

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