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Wage Garnishment Defense Attorney in Rock Hill, SC

Helping Clients Avoid Wage Garnishments and Preserve Their Income

If you’re already falling behind on bills and debts, getting a notice that your wages are going to be garnished may feel like some of the worst news you could get. Wage garnishments reduce your income, leaving you with even less money in an already tight situation. South Carolina has specific laws and rules for who can garnish your wages and when, and an attorney may be able to help you reduce or eliminate the garnishment altogether.

If you’re behind on child support or have unpaid taxes or student loans, you need a wage garnishment attorney. The team at The Howze Law Firm, LLC, is here to help you understand how garnishment works and what your options are for stopping it. Call our office to schedule an appointment today.

What Is a Wage Garnishment?

A wage garnishment is when a creditor takes part of your income to repay a defaulted debt. To garnish wages, the creditor must get a court order. Once the garnishment has been ordered, a copy of the court order goes to the payroll department at your place of employment, and the money is automatically subtracted from your check every time you get paid. While this does help you pay down debt, it can also have a dramatic impact on how much you are bringing home and can make it difficult to pay your bills and provide for your family’s needs.

Under What Circumstances Can Your Wages Be Garnished?

Wage garnishments are subject to both state and federal law, and the good news is that South Carolina is one of the few states in the country that strictly limits who can garnish your wages. Creditors often like to use wage garnishment as a threat to make you pay them, but consumer creditors are not allowed to garnish wages at all in South Carolina. This means that your wages can’t be garnished for defaulted car loans or credit card debt, for example. The only exception to this is that a garnishment that was already ordered against you while you lived in another state can still be upheld if you move to South Carolina.

Creditors who can garnish your wages include those at the state and federal level. Wages can be garnished to pay child support or alimony. They can also be garnished for state or federal tax debts as well as federal student loans.

Are There Limits on Wage Garnishments in South Carolina?

Both state and federal law impose limits on what income is subject to garnishment and how much can be taken. For example, Social Security, workers’ compensation benefits, and veterans’ benefits are not subject to garnishment. How much can be taken from your check depends on how much you make and the amount of the debt. How much disposable income you have — which is how much you’re left with after paying expenses such as rent, utilities, and other bills — is also taken into consideration.

For child support, up to 50 percent of your disposable income can be garnished, but this can be increased to 60 percent if you don’t have any other dependents, such as a spouse or another child. Another 5 percent can be taken if you are at least three months in arrears.

If the debt is a student loan, the creditor can garnish up to 15 percent of your wages, but you must be allowed to keep at least 30 times the federal minimum wage per week. As of 2024, the federal minimum wage is $7.25, so you would be entitled to keep at least $217.50 per week in earnings.

How Can You Contest a Garnishment?

If you are facing wage garnishment due to an out-of-state creditor from when you lived outside of South Carolina, you may be able to stop a garnishment by negotiating with the creditor or showing that you don’t have enough disposable income to garnish. However, it’s much more difficult to stop a garnishment for a state or federal debt. If you believe that the garnishment is in error or would cause you severe financial hardship, an attorney may be able to help you explore other options.

How Will a Wage Garnishment Affect My Credit and Finances?

Having your wages garnished has an immediate effect on your disposable income because it means that you will be bringing home less money. If this means that you aren’t able to keep up with other bills, such as a car payment or a mortgage, this could have a negative effect on your credit. Making timely payments is one of the most important factors in your credit score. However, wage garnishments themselves don’t show up on your credit report or directly affect your score.

Will I Need to File for Bankruptcy?

While filing for bankruptcy can help you if you are facing overwhelming consumer debt, most of the types of debt that are garnishable in South Carolina aren’t able to be discharged with bankruptcy. However, there are some bankruptcy options that may allow you to restructure your debt into more manageable payments. Filing bankruptcy for your consumer debt could also potentially free up enough income to be able to make your other debt payments more easily.

If you’re facing mounting debt and aren’t sure you’ll be able to make ends meet with a wage garnishment, a skilled wage garnishment lawyer can help you fight back or consider other options. Contact The Howze Law Firm, LLC, at 803-324-9009 to speak to a knowledgeable attorney who can help.