Virtually no one plans to fall behind on their bills, but many people in Florida find themselves in this exact position. When consumers still cannot get caught up despite their best efforts, creditors will sometimes turn to wage garnishment. Not all debts may be repaid through the garnishment of wages, although many can, including back taxes, student and personal loans, child support and legal judgments. Facing garnishment is not necessarily an impossible situation, though, and consumers have options when dealing with the process.
Credit collectors cannot just call up a person’s boss and ask that a portion of that individual’s paycheck be given to them instead. First, they must schedule a court hearing, of which the debtor will likely be notified. At the hearing, the creditor will have to demonstrate that not only are it is owed money, but that the person who took on the debt has not made the necessary repayment efforts. If the creditor’s request is granted, the employer will be given instructions for withholding wages and will also have to notify their employee of the garnishment.
Individuals do not need to fear that their entire paycheck will be taken away, though. The Consumer Credit Protection Act prevents wage garnishments sought through a federal court from exceeding 25 percent of a person’s weekly disposable income. There are exceptions, however, as in the case of child support, where garnishment may account for up to 60 percent of weekly disposable income. A person does not need to worry about losing one’s job over this situation either, as it is illegal to fire a person for such.
Preventing wage garnishment altogether is also possible. However, this usually involves contacting a creditor directly to work out an arrangement. Some creditors — including the IRS in terms of owed back taxes — allow for structured repayment plans while other institutions will negotiate more affordable arrangements.
Most importantly, individuals in Florida should not ignore the problem. When an individual realizes that he or she cannot make monthly debt payments or receives a notice for a wage garnishment hearing, timely action is essential for yielding the best possible outcome. In most cases, an attorney can help explain consumers’ rights and protections under the law.