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What to expect if you are facing wage garnishment

Being in debt is one of if not the most upsetting financial situations people across Florida may be facing. Bills go unpaid, penalties stack up, minimum payments are not making a dent in the overall balances and you could be faced with the possibility of losing your home.

Unfortunately, many people in this situation wait and wait to deal with their debt in the hopes that they will find a way to resolve it on their own. If they fail to find a solution, drastic measures may be taken by creditors to collect money owed. One such measure is wage garnishment.

Wage garnishment happens when creditors secure a court order to take money directly from your paychecks. This can be upsetting for several reasons.

To begin with, it means that your employer will have information about your financial troubles that you'd rather he or she not, as an order will be issued to your employer directing them to withhold a portion of your paycheck. It also means that you will be taking home less money every pay period. This can make it even more difficult to pay other debts.

However, you should know that there are restrictions on wage garnishment. For example, if you work in a position where you earn tips, those tips are protected from garnishment as they -- generally -- are not considered earnings. There are also exemptions in place that protect certain funds and resources.

Further, federal and state laws protect a portion of your wages from being garnished. Though the limits and protections differ slightly, the overall standard is that wage garnishment should not make it impossible for you to provide support for yourself and your family.

But make no mistake: Wage garnishment is a serious action that if left unaddressed could cause considerable damage to your already-unstable financial situation. In our next post, we will discuss the options you have to avoid or stop wage garnishment.

Source: United States Department of Labor, "Fact Sheet #30: The Federal Wage Garnishment Law, Consumer Credit Protection Act's Title 3 (CCPA)," accessed on Nov. 24, 2015

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