What Actually Is Wage Garnishment?

What Actually Is Wage Garnishment?


Wage garnishment is the forced recovery of an obligation by having the employer directly pay the creditor money towards the obligation. In a normal scenario, a plaintiff will file a lawsuit. If they win in that lawsuit, then they will receive a judgment. Through a court order, they can require the employer to directly pay a portion of the consumer’s wages.

What Are The Possible Scenarios Where A Creditor May Be Able To Garnish Wages?

In the overwhelming majority of circumstances, a creditor has to receive a judgment before they are able to request a garnishment of wages. The very limited exceptions to this rule typically apply to the federal government. In some circumstances, the federal government can do a reduced garnishment of student loan obligations before a judgment has been entered. Additionally, there is a garnishment of bank accounts, which is a very similar process with the exception that the garnishment is levied against the account rather than the ongoing wages.

How Is The Garnishment Process Started?

The garnishment process is started by first obtaining a judgment, which is a lawful finding that the party is entitled to money. Before a judgment is entered, a creditor is typically not allowed to request a garnishment. After the garnishment has been entered, the creditor can request information of the judgment debtor, such as their place of employment. The debtor is lawfully obligated to provide honest responses to those questions. Once the creditor is able to determine the place of employment, they would file a motion for writ of garnishment, which is a request for a legal order that says that a portion of the wages go towards satisfying the judgment.

How Much Of Someone’s Wages Can Potentially Be Garnished?

Generally, the amount of wages that can be garnished is 25 percent of the gross amount. It’s worth taking a moment to recognize that the gross part of a person’s wages is the amount before taxes are taken out. Oftentimes “25% of gross” will be about one-third of a person’s take-home income. It can be fairly significant. There are some protections from garnishment that may limit the amount of wages that can be garnished, but 25 percent of gross is the standard. It really can be incredibly burdensome, especially for someone who is on a limited budget.

Can I Lose My Job If a Creditor Imposes Wage Garnishment?

Wage garnishment does not generally affect employment, especially from the employer’s perspective. The employer has an obligation to abide by the court order.

What Can I Expect To Happen If My Bank Account Is Being Garnished?

Having a bank account garnished can be a huge imposition. The difficulty with bank account garnishment is that you are generally not notified before the funds are frozen. When a bank account garnishment takes place, the whole account is locked out. That can create significant problems, especially if there are pending checks to third-parties that may end up bouncing as a result.

How Long Do I Have To File An Answer To A Lawsuit Filed By A Creditor?

The length of time involved in answering a lawsuit depends on the type of lawsuit that is filed. The response time outside of small claims court is generally 20 days. In small claims court, there isn’t a specified response time, but the defendant is required to attend a pre-trial conference that is usually scheduled shortly after they are served.

What Are The Basic Procedures For Challenging A Wage Garnishment?

The procedures for challenging the wage garnishment depend on what path appropriately fits the consumer’s situation. If a consumer is planning to challenge the underlying judgment, then there would be a series of motions that would be filed, followed by a hearing with the judge. If the consumer is planning on applying for a garnishment protection or exemption, then there is a form that would be filed and submitted to the court. In contrast, bankruptcy has a very lengthy set of procedures on which a consumer should consider consulting with an attorney.

For more information on Wage Garnishment In Florida, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (727) 538-4188 today.

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