The Rules of Wage Garnishment in Mississippi

On behalf of Thomas C. Rollins, Jr. (T.C.) at The Rollins Law Firm

If you are facing garnishment, the process is completely avoidable.

When you fall behind on your credit cards, medical bills and other forms of unsecured debts, one of the options your creditors have to compel you to pay is wage garnishment. You may already know that wage garnishment is an order from a court requiring your employer to deduct a percentage of your wages to be applied towards your debts.

Garnishment basics

Under Mississippi law, garnishment is not a process that can happen without you first knowing about it. In most cases, you cannot have your wages garnished without first having a judgment awarded against you. This means that your creditors must sue you and win the lawsuit. Once the court has awarded the judgment, your creditors may ask it for an order of garnishment.

Although judgments are required in most cases, your wages may be garnished without a judgment for certain priority debts such as taxes, student loans and child support. In such cases, a lawsuit is unnecessary before obtaining a garnishment order.

Limitations on garnishment

You may be relieved to know that Mississippi law limits the amount that may be taken from your paycheck. Under the law, your creditors may only take the lesser of: 25 percent of your disposable earnings or 30 times the federal minimum wage. Your disposable earnings are the portions of your paycheck left over after taxes and other deductions have been taken out.

In addition to limiting the amount that may be taken from your paycheck, Mississippi law also protects you from immediate wage garnishment. The law prevents the first garnishment deduction from occuring for 30 days after you have been served with a garnishment. This can give you some time to take steps to avoid the garnishment process.

How garnishment may be avoided

Since garnishment means that your employer knows about your money problems, it goes without saying that it is an unpleasant and embarrassing process. Fortunately, the garnishment process can largely be avoided. In some cases, if you are behind on your bills, your creditors will allow you to work out a payment plan with them, forgoing the garnishment process completely. However, the law does not require creditors to do this. In cases where you are unable to work out a deal with your creditors or cannot afford to pay your debts, bankruptcy is often the best solution.

As soon as you file bankruptcy, any pending lawsuit or garnishment is immediately stopped. During the bankruptcy process, your debts are eliminated or paid back, depending on the type of bankruptcy you file. Once you have finished bankruptcy, you have a fresh start financially without any fear of garnishment of your pre-bankruptcy debts.

If you are facing garnishment, it is important for you to know all of your options. The experienced bankruptcy attorneys at The Rollins Law Firm can listen to your situation, outline possible solutions and recommend the best one for you.

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