Unfortunately, the way the court system works you receive very little notice that a garnishment is about to occur – often your first notice is after the garnishment order has already been entered and your wages are garnished for 15-25% or your bank account is frozen.
Time is of the essence in responding to a garnishment!
There are a number of ways to deal with garnishment. If you have received notice that you are about to be garnished, see an attorney as soon as possible and request a hearing. That will prevent a wage garnishment order from being entered in some cases. During that time, various options exist: debt settlement at better terms; asserting Florida exemptions to garnishment, consolidation or rehab of a defaulted student loan to bring it current, Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy which immediately stops a garnishment etc.
Once a garnishment begins, debt settlement options often go out the window. Filing a bankruptcy will still stop any garnishment though. For student loans, consolidation is no longer an option, but rehabilitation still can be used to cure a default. So the solution may vary depending upon the type of debt you have.
A single writ of garnishment can continue until the debt is paid in full.
A private creditor has to file a lawsuit and obtain a judgment before they have the ability to garnish wages. So if a creditor threatens that they can garnish your wages next week and they haven’t even filed suit yet, that would not be possible. It would also be a violation of our consumer laws such as the FDCPA and FCCPA to imply urgency where there is none.
If the federal government is threatening garnishment of your wages such as for an unpaid federal student loan, they do not have to file suit first. They can garnish your wages administratively by simply sending you notice in the mail. Unfortunately, the Florida exemptions for head of household do not apply to federal cases.What Does Exempt from Garnishment Mean and how do I ask for This
If you provide 50% or more of the support for another such as a child or spouse, you may qualify for the “head of household” exemption from wage garnishment. However, you have to properly claim the exemption by timely submitting the Claim of Exemption Form filled out and signed, and attend any hearing that may be set to prove the exemption. The “head of household” exemption is allowed by Florida Statute 222.11 and includes all dependents, even an aunt, uncle, parent or former spouse – provided you are paying at least 50% of the living expenses for the dependent.
One limitation to the head of household defense, is that you may have contractually signed away this defense. Credit unions are notorious for including this waiver in their contracts.
There are other exemptions that may apply for wage garnishment such as for social security benefits, welfare, workers’ compensation, veteran’s benefits, pensions, life insurance benefits and disability income benefits.
If you are threatened with wage garnishment, it is important to seek the advice of an attorney as soon as possible. Defense or possible negotiation of the debt diminishes as time goes on and after a court order is entered allowing the garnishment.
Our law firm offers free consultation and has flexible payment options to retain our services to stop wage garnishment.