Many people who come to see us are facing a pending wage garnishment. The key to stopping a garnishment is not to attend the hearing and try to convince the judge you have no money to pay. Instead, it is imperative that you cure the default before the garnishment order is entered. We can normally cure a default before garnishment starts if we are hired shortly after notice is received. If our client comes to us too late though, they often have to endure wage garnishment for 5-9 months before it can be removed during the cure process.
A wage garnishment for federal loans is 15% of net pay and there is no “head of household” exemption like we have for state law courts in Florida where someone who supports a dependent can avoid garnishment.
Garnishment can also occur for defaulted private loans. The process is considerably much longer in that a lawsuit must first be filed unlike a federal student loan garnishment which is an administrative process only. The borrower is served with process and given an opportunity to respond. There may be various defenses that can be asserted in that court case (and may be waived if not properly asserted). Eventually, if the student loan creditor obtains a judgment, then a writ of garnishment can be entered. Typically, a defended student loan case will result in a dismissal or settlement as opposed to a garnishment – unless the judgment is not fought and simply obtained by the borrower’s failure to respond.