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My wages are being garnished: Is there anything I can do?

For millions of people across the U.S., the idea of being debt-free and financially stable is far closer to being a pipe dream than a reality. Since the recession, people all across the country have been struggling to rebuild or retain their economic standing after dealing with credit card debts, threats of foreclosure and even job loss.

One issue that can make financial recovery even more challenging is if your wages are being garnished. Wage garnishment is an action creditors can pursue as something of a last resort if debt has gone unpaid. If a court grants a petition for garnishment, creditors can start taking money directly from your paycheck. In these situations, you can feel completely helpless and exposed. However, there are ways you can stop wage garnishment.

To begin with, you may be able to argue that certain exemptions apply. This could help you prevent the garnishment from ever being approved. State and federal laws set limits on what can and cannot be garnished as well as how much a person must earn in order for garnishment to be granted.

For instance, in Florida, exemptions include health aids, life insurance proceeds, money in medical savings accounts or college funds as well as unemployment benefits. Further, if you are the head of your family, weekly wages of $500 or less cannot be garnished. Federal law takes this further and specifies that no more than 25 percent of your income can be garnished.

If your wages are already being garnished, you can put a stop to it by filing for bankruptcy protection. Once a person files for bankruptcy, actions like foreclosure and wage garnishment must stop immediately. This can give you the time and financial breathing room you may desperately need to find a more permanent solution.

Having money taken from your paycheck by creditors can be enormously upsetting and embarrassing. Too many people try to keep the issue to themselves or assume there is nothing they can do about it. However, discussing this situation with a lawyer can help you identify your options and make some decisions to get you moving forward instead of staying stuck underneath mounting debt.

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