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Fighting Creditors: Wage Garnishment

Wage garnishment by its very nature doesn’t feel fair. When someone else is taking money out of your paycheck, you can feel like you’ve lost control over your own money. It’s even worse when wage garnishment is unexpected. It’s horrible to get a paycheck only to find out that it’s less money than you were expecting because a creditor took some of it before you even saw it. At Brody & Cornwell, our consumer protection lawyers fight to protect clients throughout St. Louis from unfair business practices.

What Is Wage Garnishment?

Garnishment is a method by which a judgment creditor can seize the assets of a judgment debtor. When a creditor discovers assets that are controlled by a third party, they can seize those assets before you even see them. When the third party is your employer, the process is called wage garnishment.

In other words, your wages are considered an asset in the possession of or controlled by the garnishee (your employer, the third party) until you get them.

How Much Can A Creditor Take From Your Wages?

Under federal and Missouri laws, there are limits to the amount of money creditors can garnish from your wages to satisfy a debt. If there are more than one creditors, they have to share whatever amount is available to garnish.

The amount of money, by law, that creditors can garnish from your wages is the lesser of the following options:

  • After withholdings (like FICA, federal and state taxes) 25% of your disposable income, unless you are the head of your household
  • If you are the head of your household and the primary wage earner of your family, only 10% of your non-exempt disposable income
  • The amount of a debtor’s weekly income that exceeds 30 times the minimum wage

Basically, if you are the head of the household and the sole wage earner of your family, then there is less money that creditors can take out of your paycheck.

If this is all very confusing, know that you are not alone. We know that the creditor and debtor laws about wage garnishment are confusing and it can be overwhelming to try to figure it all out. More than anything, we want to make sure that your rights are protected. Our lawyers have dedicated their legal careers to protecting clients against unfair debt collection practices.

If your wages are being garnished, we offer a free consultation so that we can answer your questions, talk you through the process and make sure that any of your debtors are following the collections laws.

Challenging A Wage Garnishment

It can be difficult to challenge the debt itself at this point. If your wages are already being garnished, any challenge to the validity of the debt should have been argued during the collections litigation that resulted in the legal judgment against you. However, there are still ways to dispute the judgment. You can argue:

  • That the creditor made a mistake and named the wrong person in their case
  • That the creditor made a mistake in how much money was owed
  • The judgment is old and has passed the statute of limitations or the time allowed by law for the debtor to collect on their judgment
  • There was a mistake with the procedure and the creditor didn’t follow the appropriate legal process to get the original judgment or garnish your wages

You can also try to argue that your income is exempt, which means that the creditor won’t be able to garnish your wages, or as much of your wages that they are currently trying to take.

Our consumer protection lawyers want to help you protect your rights. If the creditor in your case is not following the law, we will also work to make them pay for your legal fees.

Call A Wage Garnishment Attorney For A Free Consultation

If your wages have been garnished by a creditor, a wage garnishment lawyer can help. Our consumer protection attorneys offer free, initial consultations. We can look at what is happening in your case, answer your questions, review the collection judgment against you and let you know if we think there are any grounds to challenge the wage garnishment.  Contact us today to schedule your free appointment. You can also reach us by calling 314-400-2229.