Facts about Florida Wage Garnishment
Garnishment is a popular tool used by creditors to collect on a debt. Most often, a creditor uses garnishment to take a portion of a debtor’s paycheck. The creditor gets a writ of garnishment issued to the debtor’s employer, who withholds the required sum and sends it to the creditor.
There are several state and federal laws regarding wage garnishment that debtors should know about. Our Plantation bankruptcy attorney reviews some of the more important ones.
A creditor cannot take your entire paycheck. Florida recognizes that even those who owe other people money need to support themselves, so it limits the amount of wages that can be garnished.
Ultimately, a creditor can garnish the lesser of these two numbers:
- 25% of your income after required deductions
- The amount in excess of 30 times the federal minimum wage (which is currently $7.25 an hour)
For example, you might make $150 a week working part-time. Since this is less than 30 times the federal minimum wage, none of your wages can be garnished. However, if you make $800 a week, then $200 of your wages can be garnished, which is 25% of your income after deductions.
Heads of Family Are Protected Even More
Someone who provides more than 50% of the support for a child or another dependent can claim to be the head of the household. Under Fla. Stat. § 221.11, $750 are automatically exempt from garnishment, without exception. This adds up to $3,000 a month. Any amount over $750 a week is also exempt unless the debtor waives the exemption.
Higher Garnishment Limits for Child Support
Family law obligations like child support are treated differently under the law. The government is much more aggressive about having parents support their children, so more of your income can be garnished:
- If you are supporting a spouse or another child, then up to 50% of your income can be garnished.
- If you are not supporting anyone else, then up to 60% of your income can be garnished.
If you have unpaid child support that is more than 12 weeks old, a creditor can garnish an additional 5%. So it is possible that some parents will have 65% of their pay withheld.
For example, Ken might make $600 a week working in construction. He could see up to $300 a week garnished for child support if he is supporting a spouse and/or another child not subject to the support order. If he is single without any other dependents, he could have $360 garnished.
Bankruptcy Can Stop Garnishment
The automatic stay goes into effect as soon as you file for bankruptcy protection. This stay tells all creditors to stop their collection efforts. For this reason, it can also stop a wage garnishment, freeing up more money for you to live.
Of course, the stay does not last forever. And creditors could ask the court to lift the stay and allow them to continue to garnish wages. However, bankruptcy could still help, especially if you file for Chapter 13 protection and spread out arrearages over the course of your payment plan.
Learn More—Contact Us Today
The Plantation bankruptcy lawyers at Nowack & Olson have stopped many garnishment actions in their tracks. To learn more, reach out to us to schedule a free consultation.