Cinderella’s Sad Story of Garnishment

Once upon a time, Cinderella had a money judgment entered against her.  She thought nothing of it at the time because she could no more pay her debt than go to the ball.  Then along came her Fairy Godmother and next thing you know, Cinderella had won the Prince Charming lottery. Right in the middle of happily ever after, a creditor garnished Cinderella’s newfound wealth.  Her brand new great big mound of money was swept clean from her account, just like that—poof!—it was gone.  “Surely you would not take my good fortune from me!” Cinderella protested. “The judgment is good for 20 years,” replied the creditor.  And thus Cinderella went from rags to riches and back to rags again.   A Money Judgment is just a piece of paper, EXCEPT a creditor may watch your bank account over the next 20 YEARS.  If your credit score goes up, that creditor might reappear.  With a Money Judgment, he may get your car, your real estate (except homestead), or garnish your bank account without prior notice to you, freezing any good fortune you come into. Everybody should pay their debts; however, certain incomes are exempt to prevent a choice between paying the […] Read More

Garnishment is Better Than Debtors’ Prison

Garnishment is better than debtors’ prison because it gives the debtor a chance to repay their bills instead of relying on their family to buy them out of hock…but it is still not great.  With garnishment, money just disappears from your paycheck or bank account, then you receive Notice of Garnishment (as if you had not noticed). Everyone should pay their bills, but you have to be able to stay in your home, feed yourself, and put gas in your car.  That is why certain incomes are eligible for exemption. If you are head of household supplying more than one-half the income to support a minor child, that income is eligible for exemption. If your income comes entirely from Social Security or a pension fund, that income is eligible for exemption.   So, money disappears out of your account and then you get a Notice of Garnishment, what can you do then?  Then you can fill out the form (that comes with the Notice) to file for an exemption. The key to that exemption is that you have to claim it.  Just because you are eligible does not mean you automatically get it. Whether or not you are eligible for an […] Read More

The Way Garnishment Works

The way garnishment works is first they take your money, THEN they tell you they have taken it.  You wake up one day and whatever you owe them, that money got disappeared.  Later when you receive that notice of garnishment, they also send you a form to file for exemption. If you are head of household supplying more than one-half the income to support a minor child, that income is eligible for exemption. If your income comes entirely from Social Security or a pension fund, that income is eligible for exemption. People have options.  Everyone should pay their bills, but you have to be able to stay in your home, feed yourself, and put gas in your car—that is why certain incomes are eligible for exemption.  You do not have to promise your Social Security income to cover a collection judgment; claim an exemption instead. Seek competent legal advice to learn more about exemptions from judgment.  (You do not need an appointment to pick up a pamphlet at Legal Aid about collection exemptions and how to claim them.)  St. Johns Legal Aid is located at 222 San Marco Avenue in St. Augustine and they are open 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 […] Read More

Garnishment: Paying for Parsley

Parsley does not usually come a la carte; however, in Money Judgments, you may pay for garnishment.  The bad news about garnishment is that it happens before you know it, and the good news is that you could be eligible for an exemption…but you have to claim it. Garnishment is collection of a Monetary Judgment by deducting funds from a your bank account or wages.   Normally the waiter does not warn you about garnishment—neither does anybody else.  With a Money Judgment, the opposition can file a Motion for a Writ of Garnishment, which means that at any inopportune time, they can dip into your bank account, or take a portion of your wages.  You do not get notice that it is going to happen until after it happens, then the attorney will send you an exemption form. Everybody should pay their debts; however, certain incomes are exempt to prevent a choice between paying the electric bill or buying food.  Exempt incomes include: 1. Income of head of household at a certain level 2. Social Security benefits 3. Pension 4. Disability The key to that exemption is that you have to claim it. An exemption is like your luggage going around […] Read More