A wage garnishment can be an unexpected and unpleasant surprise. When a
creditor takes money out of your bank account or directly out of your
paycheck, it can be difficult to make ends meet. If you have a garnishment
order against you, you may be able to remove the garnishment or reduce
the amount you owe under certain circumstances. Before you resign yourself
to paying off a debt in full, learn more about your legal options.
Vacate the Judgment
Wage garnishments occur after a creditor has received a judgment against
you in court. In some instances, the court may agree to vacate, or throw
out, the judgment against you. Usually, a court will agree to vacate a
judgment if you were never properly served with notice of the lawsuit,
or if you failed to answer the complaint because of excusable neglect.
For instance, if you never received a summons giving you the name of the
person suing you and the date that you had to appear in court, you never
had the chance to defend yourself in court. To correct this, a judge may
agree to vacate the judgment and start the case over again.
Settle the Debt
If the court will not vacate the judgment, you may have the ability to
settle the debt that is the subject of the wage garnishment. Sometimes,
a creditor will agree to negotiate the debt to a lower amount and take
a lump sum payment. However, since the creditor already has a wage garnishment
order, the creditor may have little incentive to negotiate.
File an Exemption
Both Florida and federal laws allow people who are subject to wage garnishment
orders to file for an exemption to the garnishment. For example, if you
are the head of your household and provide at least half of the financial
support for a dependent child, Florida law prohibits a creditor from taking
the first $750 of your weekly income.
If you qualify for an exemption, an attorney may be able to reverse or
reduce the garnishment accordingly. However, applications for exemptions
usually have to be filed within 20 days of the notice of garnishment,
so it is important to contact an attorney as soon as you receive this notice.
File for Bankruptcy
Finally, filing for bankruptcy will stop a wage garnishment order immediately.
Creditors are not allowed to continue collecting money from your paycheck
once a bankruptcy filing is in place. If you cannot afford your bills
and cannot afford the wage garnishment, bankruptcy may be your best option.
At Loan Lawyers, our attorneys can help you decide between these options
and others depending on your type of case. If you were hit by a wage garnishment,
don’t assume that you have no other option than to pay off your
debt. Contact Loan Lawyers today and schedule your free initial consultation
by calling (888) FIGHT-13 (344-4813).