Wage Garnishment Attorney in El Dorado, Arkansas
Unpaid bills usually result in phone calls, emails, and text messages from your creditors trying to collect the money owed. At first, these efforts may be friendly—but as the months go by, the effort shifts into another gear. The original creditor may turn your account over to a bill collector or even sell it to a firm that then has every motivation to obtain the money from you.
In the long run, it’s likely that one or more of your unpaid creditors—or a debt collector—will sue you in court to collect the money. If you lose, they can then take actions to collect, including having your bank turn over the money in your account, forcing a lien on your property, or filing for a wage garnishment with your employer. All of these actions post-court-judgment are governed by federal and state law; there are legal ways to potentially limit and even discharge your obligations.
If you’ve lost a lawsuit from a creditor or bill collector in or around El Dorado, Arkansas, contact the wage garnishment attorney at the Rushing Law Firm, PLLC. We will work with you on protecting your rights and seeking financial relief in the face of court-approved collection efforts. We proudly serve clients throughout Arkansas, including Magnolia, Camden, and Crossett, and throughout the counties of Union, Columbia, Ashley, and Ouachita.
Understanding Wage Garnishment
Wage garnishment is one of the options available to a creditor who wins a “money judgment” against you in court. Once the court rules that you’re liable to repay your debt obligation, the creditor or bill collector can then proceed to place a garnishment on your wages at work.
Garnishment is a process by which your employer is required to deduct X amount of dollars from your paycheck until the debt is repaid. The creditor is not allowed to garnish all your wages, but only what is considered “disposable income,” that is, the money left after all deductions required by law are made. This means what’s left after payroll taxes. You may have union dues or a 401(k) account deducted from your wages, but they are not considered applicable deductions.
Limitations on Wage Garnishment
The federal Consumer Credit Protection Act (CCPA) limits the amount that can be deducted from your paycheck at any one time. It also protects you as the employee from being discharged by your employer because your wages are being garnished, but the protection only applies if you have just one garnishment. If two or more creditors seek garnishment, your employer is not obliged to keep you on board.
As for the limits on how much can be garnished, there are two applicable formulas. One is a straightforward 25 percent limit. The other is a bit more complicated, but it states that the garnishment can only take what’s left after your income reaches 30 times the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, which works out to $217.50 a week.
Arkansas Garnishment Laws
For the most part, Arkansas law follows federal guidelines on wage garnishment. The only exception is that Arkansas allows exemptions for laborers and mechanics. If you fall into this category, 60 days of your wages are exempt according to a formula in the state constitution. After that, you get a $25 weekly exemption.
Avoiding Wage Garnishment
While it’s probably unlikely, you can always pay the debt off before you face a court judgment, or you can work out a deal with the creditor or bill collector to pay the debt off through periodic payments. If you miss the payments, though, you could end up back in court.
Another option is, with the help of an attorney, to file for an exemption with the court. You can base the exemption request on either the amount being considered or the source of your income. For instance, if the garnishment of your wages threatens to leave you with too little money for living expenses, you can argue for an exemption based on that.
The other type of exemption is to protect income sources that cannot legally be garnished, such as Social Security, disability, or retirement benefits, as well as child or spousal support payments. These sources are protected by federal law.
The absolute solution to ending, in full or in part, your debt obligations and exposure to garnishment and other collection efforts are to file bankruptcy. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy will wipe out all consumer debts, but it will also expose you to having assets of yours sold off to satisfy creditors. A Chapter 13 filing will allow you to keep everything if you can pay for it, but it will also require you to make a monthly payment for three to five years to pay creditors back at least partially.
Wage Garnishment Attorney Serving
El Dorado, Arkansas
A wage garnishment can severely curtail your lifestyle and make it hard to even meet your basic needs beyond the bare minimum. When wage garnishment looms, or is already affecting you and your loved ones, contact an attorney at Rushing Law Firm, PLLC immediately. We will help you obtain the fresh start in life that you need and deserve.