Under certain circumstances, Florida wage garnishment laws allow creditors to seize a portion of a delinquent debtor’s wages to satisfy unpaid debts. A creditor may obtain a wage garnishment court order that directs a debtor’s employer to deduct a specified amount of money from their employee’s paycheck each week and forward it to them.
Private companies may garnish your wages to recover credit card debt, delinquent rent, medical care expenses, and personal loans. The government may garnish a person’s wages to recover unpaid income taxes, child support, alimony, student loan payments, or criminal or civil fines. Government benefits are generally exempt from garnishment.
If a business or government agency in Orlando or Central Florida has advised you that they will garnish your wages, or your employer has received a wage garnishment order, you need experienced legal counsel. You should contact a wage garnishment lawyer with Florida Law Advisers, P.A., in Orlando. We can help you fight a wage garnishment attempt or take steps to have a garnishment order lifted.
Contact an experienced Orlando wage garnishment attorney with Florida Law Advisers today for a free consultation.
What Are the Types of Wage Garnishments?
Any business or government entity you owe money to might obtain a wage garnishment order against you. An order to garnish wages in Florida may be enforced until the debt is paid off or for up to 20 years.
A wage garnishment judgment typically targets:
- Consumer debt. Consumer debt includes credit card balances, medical bills, and personal loans. In Florida, a garnishment order may take 25% of your weekly earnings after legally required deductions (including federal, state, and local taxes) or the amount by which your disposable earnings exceed 30 times the federal minimum wage ($217.50), whichever is less.
- Child support and/or alimony. Garnishment for child support and alimony may take as much as 50% of your disposable earnings or even 60% if you are not supporting a spouse or another child. If you are behind by over 12 weeks, the government can increase the garnishment rate by 5%.
- Student loans. The federal government may garnish 15% of a debtor’s disposable wages to satisfy delinquent student loan payments and other non-tax debt owed to the government.
- Federal taxes. The IRS can garnish your wages at a rate of 25 to 50% of your disposable income, depending on your withholding rate and the number of dependents you claim.
- Court-ordered judgments. A garnishment of 25% of your weekly earnings after legally required deductions or the amount by which your disposable income exceeds 30 times the federal minimum wage, whichever is less, may be granted to recover fines and fees imposed in criminal or civil cases.
What Is the Wage Garnishment Process?
If you are behind on one or more debts, your creditor will likely notify you by letter and sometimes with phone calls. A debt collector may contact you. The collector must send you a written notice within five days after you are first contacted to tell you the amount of money you owe.
Florida imposes restrictions on how and when a debt collector may contact you. You may stop a collector from contacting you by writing a letter to the agency telling them to stop.
Creditors, including the government, are expected to notify the debtor that they plan to garnish the debtor’s wages by sending a final demand letter. Non-governmental creditors must file a lawsuit to obtain a wage garnishment order. That will result in a complaint and a summons being served on you.
Once a private creditor obtains a judgment, they can file a motion with the court for a continuing writ of garnishment. Once a court grants the writ of garnishment, the creditor sends it to the employer, which must then begin to garnish their employee’s wages.
Government agencies, such as the Department of the Treasury’s Bureau of the Fiscal Service, which collects overdue nontax federal debt on behalf of federal agencies, can garnish your wages without getting a court order. This is called an administrative wage garnishment.
Are There Exemptions to Wage Garnishment?
Florida wage garnishment law protects debtors from garnishment in certain situations. You may qualify for one or more of the applicable exemptions to wage garnishment:
- Head of Family. Your wages cannot be garnished in Florida if you provide more than half of the financial support of a child or another dependent.
- Low earnings. Your wages cannot be garnished if your disposable income (income minus any amount required by law to be withheld, including standard deductions) is $750 a week or less. That’s $39,000 per year after taxes and Social Security.
- Income exemptions. Florida law protects certain types of income from being garnished, including money paid as:
- Veteran’s benefits.
- Disability income, including Social Security Disability and workers’ compensation benefits.
- Pensions and distributions from Roth IRA, IRA, and 401(k) retirement accounts.
- Annuities and life insurance benefits and cash surrender values.
Social Security retirement benefits are exempt from garnishment, but they too may be garnished to satisfy delinquent federal taxes and to enforce child support or alimony obligations.
Can I Avoid Garnishment by Filing for Bankruptcy?
Filing for bankruptcy under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 automatically establishes stays on the collection of most commercial debt, including credit card debt, medical bills, and utility payments. This includes disallowing garnishment of any weekly disposable income to satisfy these types of debt.
Filing for bankruptcy is not a step to be taken lightly, but it is a legal right for people facing insurmountable debt and needing to make a fresh start. An Orlando bankruptcy attorney with Florida Law Advisers, P.A., can discuss bankruptcy options with you and, if appropriate, help you with a bankruptcy case filing. We are not here to push bankruptcy on you. We want to provide solutions for you.
Get in Touch with a Florida Wage Garnishment Lawyer in Orlando
If your wages are being garnished or one or more creditors have advised you of impending legal action, it’s time to take steps to resolve your financial problems. An experienced Orlando wage garnishment lawyer with Florida Law Advisers, P.A., can review your financial situation and discuss your legal options to stop wage garnishment. A Florida wage garnishment attorney can help you fight to prevent creditors from garnishing your wages and help you get your finances back on track.