Garnished Wages Without Notification: What to Do

wage garnishment without notification

If you are behind on payments of child support, alimony payments, student loans, back taxes, court-ordered fines, and fees, or credit card debt, your wages may be garnished to pay a court judgment against you.

Florida law says that, when a creditor files for a writ of garnishment against an individual, they must attach a “Notice to Defendant” as outlined in Florida’s general statutes and mail or hand-deliver it to them. Unfortunately, the law only requires creditors to send the notice. There’s no requirement to determine whether the individual whose wages are being seized, received notification of the garnishment.

Once you find out your wages are being garnished, you have legal options to try to avoid wage garnishment, such as requesting a hearing to respond to a court order. A Tampa wage garnishment lawyer with Florida Law Advisers, P.A., can help you. There are deadlines for taking action to stop wage garnishment. Contact one of our Tampa wage garnishment lawyers today. We offer free initial consultations.

Is Wage Garnishment Notice Required?

Pursuant to Florida Statute 77.041, when a creditor applies for a garnishment order against an individual, the clerk of the court must attach a “Notice to Defendant” to the order. It explains the garnishment and how the individual may claim an exemption that, if approved, ends the garnishment.

The creditor must mail a copy of the wage garnishment order, a copy of the motion for the writ of garnishment, and the Notice to Defendant to the defendant’s last known address within five business days after the writ is issued or three business days after the writ is served, whichever is later.

The individual whose wages are garnished has 20 days after receiving the notice to file a form for Claim of Exemption and Request for Hearing. A copy of the form must also be delivered to the plaintiff or the plaintiff’s attorney. The exemptions exclude 11 types of income from wage garnishments, including:

  • Head of household exemption. The head of a household is someone who provides more than half of a dependent’s financial support
  • Social Security benefits
  • Supplemental Security Income benefits
  • Public assistance
  • Workers’ compensation
  • Unemployment compensation
  • Veterans’ benefits
  • Retirement or pension payments
  • Profit-sharing benefits
  • Life insurance benefits or the cash surrender value of a life insurance policy or proceeds of an annuity contract
  • Disability income benefits
  • Prepaid money in a College Trust Fund or Medical Savings Account

What To Do When You Get a Garnishment Judgment

You need to read the writ of garnishment to determine who is garnishing your wages and whether what they claim is accurate. The writ may cite debt that isn’t yours. If there are errors, you will likely need the help of a Florida wage garnishment lawyer to straighten them out. It may require a hearing for a judge to determine what your outstanding debt really is.

Often, an individual whose wages are being garnished only finds out about the garnishment when they see money missing from their paycheck or bank account, and they ask their employer what is going on. The law requires creditors to send notice of wage garnishment in Florida. However, there’s no requirement to confirm receipt.

If you never received a copy of the writ of garnishment, it may have been served on your employer or the bank holding your assets that are being garnished.  Contact them and request a copy. If they do not cooperate, contact the Clerk of Court’s Office in the county where you live. The Notice of Garnishment will be on file there.

A Tampa wage garnishment lawyer with Florida Law Advisers can help you obtain a copy of the garnishment order, explain its impact, and help you fight it if there are errors, or if you qualify for exemptions from garnishment. We also may be able to advise you about options for handling your debt and help you explore them.

What Wage Garnishment Laws Protect Me?

Under Florida law, your wages cannot be garnished if you provide more than 50% of a dependent’s living expenses. This applies to any person financially dependent on you and living with you, not just children.

Your wages cannot be garnished if your disposable earnings (income minus any required withholdings) are $750 a week or less. That’s up to $39,000 per year after deductions.

Under federal law, 15 U.S.C. 1673, garnishments may not exceed 25% of a debtor’s disposable income in most cases. This limit applies to the total amount of garnishments. Even if a debtor is facing multiple garnishments, the total garnishment may not exceed 25% of your disposable income.

Federal law offers protection from most creditors if you choose the bankruptcy option. Bankruptcy helps people who can no longer pay their debts get a fresh start by restructuring debt and developing a new debt payment plan or by liquidating assets to pay their debts.

As soon as you file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the two types of bankruptcy protection available to most individuals, your creditors will not be allowed to garnish your wages for most commercial debt, including credit card debt, medical bills, and utility payments. Many types of unsecured debt may be discharged with a personal bankruptcy filing.

The Tampa bankruptcy attorneys of Florida Law Advisers will evaluate your financial situation and help you understand the options available to you and whether the bankruptcy process is appropriate in your situation. The goal of our law firm is to help you manage your debt, deal with wage garnishments, and regain control of your financial future.

Contact a Tampa Wage Garnishment Lawyer

If you have been threatened with a wage garnishment or your hard-earned income is already being garnished, an experienced attorney at Florida Law Advisers, P.A., can help you evaluate your financial problems and determine the best steps forward. Our attorneys take an aggressive approach to challenging wage garnishments. We work with clients on alternatives such as loan modifications and out-of-court debt settlements. Schedule a consultation with a Tampa wage garnishment attorney to explore the options available to get your finances back on track.

Contact us today at (844) 698-3765 or online to schedule a free initial consultation with an experienced Florida wage garnishment attorney.

At Florida Law Advisers, P.A., we are committed to solving your divorce, bankruptcy, and immigration matters. We are a full-service law firm serving clients in Tampa, Hillsborough County, Orlando, and throughout Central Florida.