Garnishments are the most popular tool of debt collectors to collect a judgment. Once you are hit with a garnishment it is hard to ignore. Debtors will find entire bank accounts wiped by a bank garnishment. Or they will see a quarter of their net paycheck reduced in a wage garnishment.
When can a creditor issue a garnishment?
Issuing a garnishing is authorized if the creditor has obtained a judgment. As stated in the judgment section, some will not know about that a court issued a judgment until a garnishment has hit their wages or financial institution.
There are also 3 additional situations were the creditor can wage garnish the debtor without a court judgement. These are:
- unpaid income taxes
- child support
- student loans
In these situations, your wages can be garnished without the creditor taking additional steps to get a court judgment.
What Happens When My Wages Are Garnished?
When an employer receives a garnishment order they will have no choice but to pay you only 75% of your net income (i.e., the income after tax deductions). So if your income after taxes is $1,000 a week your employer will pay you $750 and set aside the $250 taken until further order from the court. At the point where the employer is already under garnishment orders you will receive from the court or from the creditor a notice giving you information about garnishment exemptions (discussed below) and the procedure and timelines to claim exemptions.
What Happens When My Bank Account is Garnished?
When the financial institution receives a garnishment order they will freeze the money in your account. This can be all the money in the account if the garnishment order specifies an amount equal or greater than what the bank holds. So if the bank holds $50,000 of your money and the garnishment order specifies that the garnishment is for $50,000 or more, all of the money will be frozen. No matter what your circumstance you will not be able to set unfreeze that money in any kind of speedy manner. If your mortgage is due you will have to get the money from elsewhere. At the point where the employer is already under garnishment orders you will receive from the court or from the creditor a notice giving you information about garnishment exemptions (discussed below) and the procedure and timelines to claim exemptions.
What Are Garnishment Exemptions and How to a Claim Them?
In Florida there is a list of reasons that the court can exempt the debtor from garnishment. One of the most talked about is the head of household exception. If the debtor qualifies as head of household under the law then that debtor can be released from the garnishment. This and other exemptions do work but there are two reasons why our law firm has seen exemption claims fail. The first is not following the proper procedure and timeline and claim the exemption. When you get the notice of exemption you have 20 days to file the claim of exemption. That is a strict deadline. The second is that debtors think that they can just walk into to court, show their tax return and say “I’m head of household” and that the court will just grant them the exemption. It is never that easy. Your claim will be scrutinized and your documentation will be scrutinized because a lot of people claim exemption but do not qualify under law. This is where a careful planed presentation by an attorney can make the difference for this exemption or other exemption.
Besides Exemption Is There Other Ways to Defeat the Garnishment?
Yes. There are multitude of legal issues surrounding the propriety of the judgment that authorizes the garnishment and well as a multitude of issues regarding the extremely technical and time steps a creditor has to follow to complete a garnishment. A great step is to consult with a lawyer regarding these possible issues.
Consider Speaking with a Florida Garnishment Attorney: David Chico Law Group
Garnishment problems can be draining. If you have a garnishment that needs to be dealt with and eliminated a great first step is to learn about your legal rights, which is best accomplished by speaking with a David Chico Law Group Lawyer.