What to Expect if You Face Wage Garnishment in Florida
If you are having trouble making ends meet, the last thing you want is for your creditor to garnish your wages. A wage garnishment, also known as a wage attachment, is an order the court sends to your employer telling them to withhold money from your paycheck and sent it to the creditor.
As you can imagine, this will not endear you to your employer. However, they can’t fire you for it unless you have more than one garnishment. However, under Florida law, your employer can deduct the amount from your paycheck that it cost them to obey a wage garnishment order.
When Can a Creditor Garnish My Wages?
In most cases but with some exceptions, a creditor needs a judgment against you and a court order to garnish your wages. However, there are some exceptions where the government is involved. If you do not pay the below debts, you can end up with a wage garnishment without a judgment against you:
- Income tax
- Child or spouse support
- Federal student loans
How Much Can a Creditor Garnish in Florida?
For the most part, Florida follows federal wage garnishment law. Florida allows for some exemptions though, which we will get to in a minute. Generally speaking, in Florida a creditor can garnish
- 25% of your disposable earnings, OR
- The amount your disposable income exceeds 30 times the federal minimum wage, whichever is less
Note that under Florida Stat. Ann. § 222.11, if your disposable earnings are under 30 times the federal minimum wage, none of your wages may be garnished.
Disposable earnings means earnings that remain after your employer has withheld deductions required by law such as taxes, social security and your share of state unemployment compensation insurance. If you have deductions that are not required by law such as for health insurance, these do not reduce your disposable income.
What If More than One Creditor is Garnishing My Wages?
The total amount that multiple creditors can garnish is 25%. They do not each get 25%.
Florida Head of Family Exemption
Under Florida law, you are exempt from garnishment if you are a head of family, and your disposable earnings are $750 per week or less. Head of family means any person who provides over half the support for a child or other dependent.
How Much Can Be Garnished for Categories Outside the “Judgment First” Rule?
We have already noted that you can be garnished without a judgment against you if you owe taxes, child support or student loans. But how much?
The amount the federal government can garnish for unpaid taxes depends on your deduction rate and your dependents. Your Florida debt collection defense attorney can analyze your situation and inform you about how much of your earnings can be garnished for federal, state and local taxes.
Child and Spousal Support
In Florida, a court may order your employer to withhold child support payments and send them to the Florida State Disbursement Unit. The Florida State Disbursement Unit then sends the payment to the parent owed the support. However, wage garnishment is still a possibility if payments are not kept up to date.
In the case of child or spousal support, the amount your wages may be garnished exceeds the norm. The may order a wage garnishment
up to 50% of disposable earnings and up to 60% if you are not supporting a spouse or child. If your support payments are over 12 weeks late, the amount can climb to 65%.
Federal Student Loans
If you have defaulted on a federal student loan, the US Department of Education or their bill collectors can garnish up to 15% of your disposable income. However, they may not garnish more than 30 times the minimum wage.
Call Us If You Think Your Wages May Be Garnished
If you are being sued for a debt or already have a judgment against you, contact us at Ziegler Diamond Law: Debt Fighters for a free consultation by submitting this form. Or just call us directly at (727) 538-4188 in Clearwater, (813) 225-3111 in Tampa or (352) 600-1326 in Mt. Dora. There is no time to waste!