Understanding wage garnishment in Mississippi

One of the most distressing financial challenges can be having one's wages garnished by a creditor or by the government to pay off a debt. If a Mississippi resident accrues a certain number of missed payments on obligations such as child support, student loans or even credit card payments, they may eventually experience garnishment. However, the topic of garnishment can be quite confusing for many who are unfamiliar with state and federal law on the topic.

Usually, garnishment does not occur until after a debt has accrued and creditors have attempted to contact the debtor and discuss repayment. If the creditor follows all applicable laws and still is unable to secure any sort of repayment from the debtor, the creditor may take the issue to court and obtain a judgment against the debtor. Following the issuance of a judgment, garnishment can then take place.

Once it is decided that garnishment is the only way to obtain the debt, an order is often sent to one's employer, which directs the employer to then withhold a certain amount of money from a debtor's paychecks. The withheld money is sent to the creditor and is applied toward the debt.

Fortunately, it is not possible for a creditor to garnish all of one's wages, leaving the debtor with no money to pay his or her daily living expenses. Federal law prohibits more than 25 percent of a debtor's wages from being garnished. States can create more narrow thresholds if they desire, but in Mississippi, the limit stands at 25 percent. Specifically, a creditor can take up to 25 percent of a worker's disposable income or the amount by which a worker's weekly disposable income surpasses 30 times the federal minimum wage.

Another thing to keep in mind about garnishment and other forms of asset forfeiture is that it doesn't have to happen. If one is able to repay a debt voluntarily, it is almost always beneficial to do so or to at least discuss the situation with a creditor directly. If debts are truly too much to repay, discussing the details with a bankruptcy attorney can put a stop to garnishment, foreclosure and repossession.

Source: FindLaw.com, "Wage Garnishment," accessed Aug. 14, 2014

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