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Wage and Bank Account Garnishment
July 4, 2012
How can I stop my wages from being garnishedTo stop a potential or active garnishment , you must act fast. The faster the reponse, the less likely you are to lose your income and savings.

 If a creditor has threatened to garnish your pay or bank account, immediately taking action, such as quickly paying the balance of the account in full, settling the debt for a lump sum if the creditor is willing, or filing a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, may avoid garnishment all together. For those that cannot afford to pay the balance or settle the debt, bankruptcy is a welcome alternative. Filing a Chapter 7 not only stops the creditor from being able to garnish, but it may also relieves you of your obligation to pay all your debt. More importantly, you may avoid a judgment against you, something that is viewed negatively by potential employers and lenders when credit reports and background checks performed. 

If early action could not be taken, and a judgment has already been entered agasint you, the creditor may have also filed for a writ of garnishment. This “court order” is sent to your employer and/or bank, and, by law, must be implemented.  

Most of my clients are caught off guard when their pay is garnished for two reasons.  1) Some are not aware that the creditor’s collection efforts have progressed to a point where their wages can be garnished. There is often a lot of paperwork mailed during a lawsuit. Frankly speaking, if you are not familiar with these documents, it might not be clear how close you are to being garnished. 2) Secondly, many of my clients believe that their income or “head of household” status disqualifies them from garnishment; they ignore the warnings and do not comply with requests from the creditor for information proving their status.

 So who can be garnished? In Florida, the law states that only a Debtor that makes more than $750.00/week can be garnished. (That’s $750.00 after mandatory federal and state deductions.) If someone meets this criteria, up to 25% of their wages can be garnished. However, if the Debtor is head of household, meaning they can prove they provide more than 50% support to a child or other dependent, they cannot be garnished unless it is agreed to in writing. Depositions may be required or documents may need to be filed to prove head of household status. Surprisingly, separated and single moms do not always meet these requirements. (See Florida Statute below.) 

If your creditors are threatening to or have garnished your wages, and you are ready to gain control of your finances, filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy will not only stop the garnishment, but may also relieve you of your obligation to pay your other debts. If you don’t qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy under the means test, you can file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, and pay back your debt based on your disposable income NOT the debt amount. The sooner you file, the faster the wage or bank account garnishment can be stopped. Remember, any money taken prior to filing the Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy is gone and may not be returned if the creditor knows what they are doing. 

If you want to talk further about getting out of debt or your specific case, email or call me.  

Florida Exemption of wages from garnishment.—?Statute 222.11

222.11?Exemption of wages from garnishment.—

(1)?As used in this section, the term:

(a)?“Earnings” includes compensation paid or payable, in money of a sum certain, for personal services or labor whether denominated as wages, salary, commission, or bonus.

(b)?“Disposable earnings” means that part of the earnings of any head of family remaining after the deduction from those earnings of any amounts required by law to be withheld.

(c)?“Head of family” includes any natural person who is providing more than one-half of the support for a child or other dependent.

(2)(a)?All of the disposable earnings of a head of family whose disposable

earnings are less than or equal to $750 a week are exempt from attachment or garnishment.

(b)?Disposable earnings of a head of a family, which are greater than $750 a week, may not be attached or garnished unless such person has agreed otherwise in writing.