Have you been served with a writ of garnishment in the State of Michigan? Are you losing money from every paycheck due to a court judgment against you? If you are, you are probably wondering what you can do to make it stop and to get back in control of your finances.
Michigan Wage Garnishment Laws
Before most creditors can garnish you, they first have to take you to court in order to get a judgment against you. If a judge confirms the debt is valid and you’re unable to pay the debt owed in 21 days, your creditor can file what is known as a writ of garnishment, asking the court for permission to take money from your wages, state tax refund, bank account, or other.
The State of Michigan allows for two types of garnishments: periodic and non-periodic. A creditor can ask a judge for a periodic garnishment up to 25% of your take-home pay (after taxes have been deducted). These monies would go to the creditor and the order continues until your entire debt to this creditor has been paid off.
Certain types of income, including social security disability payments, SSI, veterans benefits, and some pensions, are exempt from garnishment.
How Much of My Wages Can Be Garnished?
Michigan follows federal laws in terms of limiting the amount that can be garnished from your paycheck in a periodic garnishment. According to the Consumer Credit Protection Act, which dictates the rate at which your earnings may be garnished, this is either 25% of your disposable income, or (if you earn less than $290 a week) the amount that your paycheck exceeds 30 times the minimum wage of $7.25 ($217.50). This means that if you earn $260 a week, amounts over $217.50 can be withheld and paid to your creditor.
A non-periodic garnishment gives a creditor access to a bank account or personal property of yours, like an automobile you own free and clear. If the amount in a bank account is less than the amount of the total judgment, another writ of garnishment would have to be granted in order for more money to be seized.
This means that if you owe $5,000, and a bank account with $1,000 in it is seized through a nonperiodic garnishment, your creditor would have to go back to the judge in order to get any more money from you. Your Michigan state tax refund can also be taken by creditors through a nonperiodic garnishment.
The federal government, in certain cases, can also garnish your wages, sometimes without even taking you to court. If you have defaulted on federal student loans, are in arrears in your child support payments, or have unpaid income taxes, money can be taken out of your paycheck without a writ of garnishment being issued.
Sometimes, the government is able to take a larger portion of your income than a private creditor. For example, for unpaid child support, up to 50% of your disposable income can be garnished until your debt is repaid.
What Can I Do About Wage Garnishment?
When a court rules that a creditor may garnish your wages or your bank account, it is understandable that you may feel hopeless. After all, this is the money we all rely on to cover the necessities of life like our bills, groceries, and rent.
The idea that money we need and that we work so hard for can just be taken from us without regard to our own needs is enough to make anyone feel defeated. However, there is hope!! A lawyer can help you with your garnishment in several ways – such as objecting it, helping you set up a payment plan, or filing bankruptcy.
After you have served with a lawsuit, you have 21-28 days to respond to the lawsuit before any collections can start. Do not ignore the court filing. It is important to contact an attorney to officially respond to the notice. Otherwise, the court can automatically enter the judgment.
One way of dealing with a garnishment order is to set up payment arrangements with the creditor directly, or you can file a motion to set up a payment plan through the court, which would allow you to make monthly payments instead of having your wages garnished. Making a monthly payment eases some of the financial burdens of garnishment because it allows you more freedom in budgeting your money and helps you hold on to your paycheck every week.
A lawyer can also help you determine if the writ can be objected to due to the court trying to attach or garnish exempt funds, such as federal tax refund or social security income. It is important to make sure that these protected forms of income are not touched by your creditor. In the State of Michigan, the court places the burden of proof on you to prove that your money is exempt from garnishment, so getting professional guidance can save you thousands of dollars!
Your final (and most certain) option to end a garnishment is to file for bankruptcy protection, which in many cases will erase most or all of your debts. There are two types of bankruptcy for individuals: Chapter 13 and Chapter 7. There are significant differences between them, but what is important for you is that BOTH types of bankruptcy will immediately stop garnishments against you. A lawyer can help you decide which bankruptcy option would be the best choice for your individual financial situation.
If you’re suffering from wage garnishment, Frego & Associates can help you determine a course of action that works for you. Don’t let creditors take your money! No matter what has led to your garnishment, we can help you figure out your options and be a fighter for you against the creditors. If you are already losing money out of your paycheck every week due to a garnishment, it’s not too late!! Call Frego & Associates today for a free consultation at 1-800-646-0075. We can stop the garnishment… FAST!