Writs of Garnishment/Wage Garnishment
Garnishment is a legal procedure that a plaintiff in a lawsuit uses for collecting a monetary judgment from a person who owes them money. Garnishment allows the plaintiff/garnishor to take the cash or property of the debtor from the individual or organization that holds that property (the “garnishee”) to satisfy the debt. A similar legal process called “execution” allows the seizure of money or property held directly by the debtor.
In many states, including Florida, when the individual subject to the garnishment, is a worker or appointee of a governmental unit, this is called a Writ of Sequestration. A Writ of Sequestration is processed by the courts in the same way as garnishments and undergo the same wage exemptions.
Some jurisdictions allow for garnishment by a tax agency without requiring a legal judgment or other court order.
Wage garnishment is the most well-known (feared) form of garnishment. It is the process of deducting a certain amount of money from a worker’s paycheck generally as an outcome of a court order/judgment. Wage garnishments continue until the debt is paid in full, or a satisfactory payment plan is set up with the garnishor. Payment plans with garnishors are frequently done at a discount, depending on the lender. Wage garnishment can adversely impact credit, credibility, and the capability to get a loan or open a checking account. Garnishments can be related to any type of debt, but common examples of the financial obligation that result in garnishments include the following:
– Child support
– Defaulted student loans
– Unpaid Court expenses.
When a Writ of Garnishment/Wage Garnishment is served on an employer, garnishments are taken out as part of the payroll process. In some cases, there is insufficient money left in the employee’s take-home pay to satisfy all of the garnishments. In this scenario, the garnishment is taken in the order of priority. So, for example, if a person has a federal tax garnishment, local tax garnishment, and credit card garnishments, the federal tax garnishments would be taken first. Next, the local tax garnishment will be taken, and the credit card garnishment will be taken last.
Employers receive a notification/instructions ordering them to withhold a certain amount of their employee’s incomes for payment and can not refuse to garnish earnings. Companies must correctly determine the amount of garnishment to withhold. These withholdings must continue until the garnishment ends.
At present, only 4 U.S. states-Pennsylvania, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas-do not allow wage garnishment other than for tax-related debt, child support, federally insured student loans, and court-ordered fines or restitution.
The federal garnishment weekly limitation (with some exceptions for student loans and child support) is the lower of 25% of the person’s disposable earnings (what’s left after mandatory tax deductions), or the total amount by which person’s weekly wage exceeds thirty times the federal hourly minimum wage.
Several other states follow state limits that are lower than federal maximums. Some states restrict garnishment altogether in specific scenarios. For example, in Florida, the earnings of a person who supplies over half the support for a kid or other dependent are exempt from garnishment altogether (although this can be waived).
Throughout the United States, firing a worker to prevent managing a levy might be a criminal offense. Federal law offers a fine of approximately $1,000 and jail time for as much as one year on a company that willfully fires a staff member in connection with a garnishment of the worker’s earnings.