When you’re facing wage garnishment, it may feel like you’re kissing your entire income goodbye. However, there are strict laws about how much can be garnished from your paychecks – and what can be done to seize that money.
These laws vary by state. To get a better understanding of Florida wage garnishment laws, check out these details to understand what you’re up against – and how to keep as much of your income as possible.
During a wage garnishment, a court sends an order to your employer. This order demands that money be withheld from your paycheck and be sent directly to the creditor who has requested the garnishment. This is done to repay debts you owe.
There are several different types of wage garnishment that have varying requirements about how much can be withheld from your pay and for what reason. These various approaches to garnishment apply to different types of debt.
Before a creditor can request a wage garnishment, they must first file a lawsuit regarding repayment of debts owed to them. If they win this lawsuit, they can then request a money judgment against you, which will lead to a wage garnishment being applied.
A few of the reasons you might be faced with wage garnishment include but are not limited to:
In the last three scenarios, however, wage garnishment can occur without the need for a lawsuit win on the part of the creditor. These debts are considered mandatory and must be repaid, regardless of financial standing. There are very few exceptions to this rule.
What are the laws regarding wage garnishment in Florida? In general, Florida state laws mirror federal-level laws. This means that the rule of recovering debt while allowing those whose wages are being garnished to keep enough of their income to meet basic expenses is upheld.
In Florida, a creditor can garnish either 25% of your disposable income or the amount by which your income exceeds the federal minimum wage by thirty times – whichever is less. In this state, if your income is less than thirty times the federal minimum wage, garnishment is not permitted at all.
What constitutes disposable income? In Florida, as at the federal level, disposable income is considered all wages left after your employer makes legally necessary deductions. This includes state, local, and federal taxes, as well as Social Security and any other contributions being made from your earnings. Any deductions that are not legally mandated are not withheld from your disposable income amount.
Florida state law also allows your employer to impose a charge on you for your compliance with wage garnishment. Once this charge is determined, your employer is permitted to deduct it from your earnings in addition to the garnishment already in place.
While it may not seem like it at first glance, there are limitations to what can be seized from your income when you are facing wage garnishment in Florida. These limitations are in place for numerous reasons, but primarily to prevent people from being incapable of supporting themselves or their families.
Federal law also prohibits your employer from terminating your employment because of wage garnishment. While it will not protect you from termination if you have multiple garnishments against your wages, the law does provide you with some protection from a disgruntled employer who may find accommodating your garnishment too much of a hassle.
It is important to note that for every law regarding wage garnishment in Florida, there are exceptions.
One such exemption is the Head of Family Exemption. This is a rule that states that if your weekly income is $750 or less and you can demonstrate that you are the primary provider for your family, your wages are exempt from seizure through wage garnishment. Being the primary household provider entails providing more than half of the support for necessary expenses. It is important to know that this exemption is not automatic; it must be filed for via affidavit once a wage garnishment has been requested.
Certain types of debt have different rules when it comes to Florida wage garnishment. For example, student loan debt may only without up to 15% of your disposable income, instead of the full 25%. Child support is similar, in that this expense has different rules regarding wage garnishment. However, it is much stricter; child support arrears can be recovered in amounts up to 50%-60% of your total disposable income, depending on whether you are supporting a child and spouse currently with those wages.
The total amount of withholding from your pay mandated by a wage garnishment in Florida is never to exceed 25% of your disposable income. Again, this protection is in place to assure that even those who are dealing with wage garnishment still have enough to live on and to support their families with.
Facing wage garnishment can be a stressful situation, especially if you don’t fully understand Florida wage garnishment laws. When you’re dealing with this situation, the best choice is always to seek the advice of a professional. Only a lawyer can offer you the expert counsel you need to navigate wage garnishment successfully – and prevent more losses than you’re legally obligated to allow.
For more information regarding Florida wage garnishment laws, contact the local industry experts at Van Horn Law Group. We can help you make the best of your situation and get a fair decision regarding how much of your wages can be garnished. Give us a call today to find out more!
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