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can they garnish my wages?

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luabjeal

Guest
What is the name of your state? fl
I have had several paycuts at work. As a result my house went into foreclosure and almost lost my car. I'm battling to keep my car, house and 2nd mortgage and utilities, plus kids, etc, etc, etc up to date. To be able to do this I stopped paying all credit cards as I couldn't pay both.

My highest credit card debt was 1700 which has now mounted to over 2000 with late fees and that sort of stuff. It's been approximately 6 months since i stopped paying them. My question is can they garnish my wages under the florida laws? I've had people tell me yes and some have said no. I'm completely terrified of the embarrassment this would cause.

Please help!
 


Ladynred

Senior Member
Yes, they can garnish your wages, but as head of household, the law states:

"statute provides for a complete exemption from attachment or garnishment of the first $500 per week of the disposable (after tax) earnings of a head of a family, and further provides that such person's earnings in excess of that amount are also exempt unless the person has otherwise agreed in writing. "

However, they cannot garnish your wages until they sue you and win a judgment.
 
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luabjeal

Guest
ok, what does that mean? i'm married, so i am not the head of household.
 

Ladynred

Senior Member
Being married doesn't mean you won't qualifiy as 'head of household', the IRS uses specific criteria to determine HOH.
If you don't qualify as HOH, then only $100 of your after-tax wages are exempt from garnishment.

Are these debts yours alone or are they joint ?

If its really been 6 months or more since you last paid on your credit cards, then they have either been charged off or will be soon. In that case, they will be turned over to collection agencies and they will start harrassing you and could possibly sue you and get that garnishment. You need to find out what the status is on the accounts, collection agencies are nasty to deal with.

IRS criteria for Head of Household:

"You must also have provided more than half the cost of maintaining as your home a household that was the main home for a qualifying person. You may also qualify for head of household status if you, though married, file a separate return, and your spouse has not lived in your home during the last six months of the tax year, and you provided more than half the cost of maintaining as your home a household that was the main home for a qualifying child for more than one half of your tax year."

You might still qualify.....
 
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luabjeal

Guest
they are joint accounts. Most of them are already on collection agencies.

Does that mean that if I dont' qualify as HOH all my $ except for $100 they can take away? How do I find out if they are suing? Please tell me they won't come to my work to serve me papers, will they?
 
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luabjeal

Guest
I forgot to ask, what is the cost to them to pursue a lawsuit? Is it worth it to them to go through with it for an $2000 account?
 

Ladynred

Senior Member
Well, if the *only* place they can find you is at work, then they could very well serve you there.. sorry :(

You would know for sure if they were suing, you would be served with a summons.. most likely though you'd get this in the mail or at your home. Usually the first papers give you some time, seems like 20 days is common, to answer the summons and complaint. You would be given a court date.

Unfortunately, many of the credit card issuers ARE suing for amounts under $1000, so it IS possible.. depends on the creditor, some have become more agressive than others. On the other hand you could dodge the lawsuit bullet for years, there's no way to tell when or if they will sue.

Every state has exemptions for judgments, just like in bankruptcy, so even if they DO win, they can't just 'come and take your stuff'. IF you DO get sued, its not uncommon for them to offer you a settlement or payment agreement, and you could settle for less than the full amount owed. In some states, you can file papers with the court that asks that you be allowed to make payments in lieu of a garnishment. You would need to take you financial papers with you..a GOOD accounting of your income and expenses showing you can't pay some ridiculous amount, and the courts decide what you pay. You might want to find out if that is available to you in your state.

As for what part of your wages is exempt from garnishment, the law states only $100 of disposable income is exempt. I doubt that a judge would grant something so extreme against someone in your position supporting children. You'd end up in bankruptcy and then the creditor would get a big, fat ZERO !
 
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luabjeal

Guest
Thank you so much for your knowledge. One last thing, where can I find out about my state law. I tried searching before i stumbled upon this forum but had no luck. I wasn't sure what to search for.
 
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luabjeal

Guest
it's not working for me either. It might be down I guess.
I'll try again tomorrow. Thanks.
 

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