Can They Garnish Your Wages

by aj

What happens if you have a job but still can't afford to pay a debt collector?

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Mar 24, 2010
wage garnishment
by: Gerri

We talk a lot in our e-book Debt Collection Answers about your options if you can't pay a debt. Generally, a creditor must take you to court and successfully sue you before it can garnish your wages. In addition, Florida law limits wage garnishment as follows:

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 $500 a week are exempt from attachment or garnishment.

(b) Disposable earnings of a head of a family, which are greater than $500 a week, may not be attached or garnished unless such person has agreed otherwise in writing. In no event shall the amount attached or garnished exceed the amount allowed under the Consumer Credit Protection Act, 15 U.S.C. s. 1673.

(Note: Under the CCPA, the maximum amount that can be garnished is the lesser of 25% of disposable earnings, or the amount by which disposable earnings for the week exceed 30 times federal minimum hourly wage.)

(c) Disposable earnings of a person other than a head of family may not be attached or garnished in excess of the amount allowed under the Consumer Credit Protection Act, 15 U.S.C. s. 1673.

(3) Earnings that are exempt under subsection (2) and are credited or deposited in any financial institution are exempt from attachment or garnishment for 6 months after the earnings are received by the financial institution if the funds can be traced and properly identified as earnings. Commingling of earnings with other funds does not by itself defeat the ability of a head of family to trace earnings.

But before you get to the point of possibly having wages garnished, it's important to understand all your options. Can you negotiate a payment plan on the debt? Can you negotiate a settlement?

If you truly can't pay anything on this debt, I would recommend you at least get a free consultation with a bankruptcy attorney. That way, if the creditor does decide to sue you, at least you will know what he or she can and cannot do to collect from you.

I would also suggest you
read the first chapter of Debt Collection Answers online for free so you have an overview of your rights.

Hang in there.

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