Marriage is a partnership that often extends to financial issues, including debt. Unfortunately, not all spouses see eye to eye on debt.
If your spouse is struggling with debt they can’t afford, it’s stressful to think about the possibility of losing a portion of your hard-earned income.
What should you know about how your spouse’s debt can affect you and your income?
Individual vs. Joint Debt
First, it’s important to understand the difference between individual debt and joint debt. If your spouse has debt in their name only, then the creditor cannot garnish your wages.
If the debt is in both of your names, both of your wages are at risk of being garnished to pay off the debt. In many cases, the difference between joint and individual debt is a matter of when the debt was accumulated. Often, debt accumulated during the marriage is joint debt. Debt brought into the marriage is individual debt even if it exists during the marriage.
There are exceptions to this rule and Florida courts consider debt on a case-by-case basis.
What is Wage Garnishment?
Wage garnishment is a court-ordered action that allows a creditor to collect a portion of your wages directly from your employer to partially or fully pay off your debts. Your employer deducts the amount specified by the court and sends it directly to the creditor.
It’s an opportunity for a debt collector to get what you owe them without having to worry about whether or not you’ll pay. However, court permission must be granted before a creditor can garnish your wages.
Can You Prevent Wage Garnishment?
The good news is that there are some scenarios in which you can prevent wage garnishment.
One way is to negotiate a payment plan with the creditor. If they agree to a new plan, you can make payments that work with your budget and avoid garnishment.
Another way to prevent wage garnishment is to file for bankruptcy if you and your spouse’s debt is overwhelming. Filing for bankruptcy may automatically stop wage garnishment. However, it’s essential to talk to a bankruptcy attorney to help you understand what options are available for your current situation.
You can also request that the court determine whether you’re responsible for your spouse’s debt. If the court rules in your favor, they won’t allow the collector to garnish your wages.
To learn more about wage garnishment laws in Florida, check out this information from NOLO.COM.
Keep in mind that wage garnishment is a serious issue. If you have questions beyond the general laws related to wage garnishment or if you have been threatened by a creditor in relation to your spouse’s debt, you should contact an attorney.