There are several circumstances under which your creditor can automatically take money out of your paycheck. However, there are also several protections against wage garnishment afforded to you under state law, and one of the most effective methods to prevent this is declaring bankruptcy.
Bankruptcy and wage garnishment in Jacksonville have a complicated legal relationship, and it can be hard to understand your rights and options without guidance from a legal professional. A qualified attorney could walk you through what state law says about wage garnishment and help determine whether filing for bankruptcy could put a stop to it in your situation.
When Could Creditors Garnish a Debtor’s Wages?
For a third-party creditor to have a debtor’s wages garnished as a means of collecting on their debt, the creditor generally must first file suit against the debtor and, through that lawsuit, get a court judgment ordering the debtor to pay the creditor back. However, if a debtor has defaulted on student loans, failed to pay income taxes, or is in arrears with court-ordered family support, a court judgment is not required for their wages to be garnished.
Regardless of the type of debt involved, there are strict limitations on how much of a Jacksonville resident’s wages can be garnished per week, especially if the debtor is considered the head of their family. If a debtor files an affidavit with the court affirming their “Head of Family” status, a creditor can garnish any wages above the first $750 ONLY IF the debtor signed a contract explicitly waiving their right to be protected from wage garnishment. In other words, Florida law protects a Head of Family from wage garnishment. A local attorney could assist a debtor with filing such an affidavit.
Conversely, an individual who is not the head of a family can have their wages garnished in the following amount:
The lesser of (a) 25% of all wages or (b) all wages after the first $217.50
Stopping Wage Garnishment with an Automatic Stay
The automatic stay stops wage garnishments the moment the debtor files for bankruptcy in Jacksonville. The stay is a federal court order providing relief from collection efforts and repayment obligations. It allows bankruptcy petitioners to focus on getting their financial affairs in order without being harassed by creditors or having their take-home pay cut.
A wage garnishment is usually a sign of a larger financial problem, and declaring bankruptcy to avoid wage garnishment may be the best overall option for immediate relief and a fresh start. A qualified bankruptcy attorney will discuss with an individual how wage garnishment works before and after bankruptcy, as well as whether they may be able to get some of their garnished wages back after declaring themselves bankrupt.
Speak with a Bankruptcy Attorney About Jacksonville Wage Garnishment
Having your wages garnished can be a frustrating experience, but once a court puts an order (known as a Continuing Writ of Garnishment) in place, there is little you can do to avoid it. However, the automatic stay provided by a bankruptcy court filing can provide immediate and lasting relief.
If you want to learn more about bankruptcy and wage garnishment in Jacksonville, you should contact a qualified lawyer. Call today to schedule an initial consultation and start discussing your case.