Sarah Edwards | June 30, 2023
Edited by Hannah Locklear
Summary: Are you facing a debt lawsuit in Arizona? If you lose your case, your creditor may seize up to 25% of your weekly earnings. Luckily, Arizona laws can help you stop unfair wage garnishment. Alternatively, there are ways to avoid garnishment like responding to your lawsuit with a written Answer or settling your debt before going to court.
Birds are chirping, the sun is shining, and everything seems wonderful — until you find a summons for a debt lawsuit on your Arizona front porch. You'll want to act quickly if you’re the subject of a debt lawsuit. If you lose the case, your creditors will win a judgment they can use to garnish your pay or seize other assets, like your bank account.
A wage garnishment requires your employer to withhold part of your weekly income until you satisfy a debt. The amount of a wage garnishment varies depending on state laws, your earnings, and the total you owe. Generally, the more you earn and the higher your debt, the greater the garnishment amount.
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Creditors only gain the right to garnish your wages if they win a debt lawsuit against you. They can’t just contact your employer and tell them to start withholding a part of your pay to satisfy a debt you owe. Instead, a creditor must go through the appropriate legal process before wage garnishment can start.
Every state has its own rules concerning wage garnishment, and Arizona is no different. According to Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 33-1131, the maximum wage garnishment is the lesser of these two amounts:
Disposable earnings include income from a job, bonus, or commissions. In Arizona, they also include payments from a retirement plan or pension, less any required tax withholdings.
Arizona does provide some relief to debtors who enroll their debts in a qualified debt counseling organization. Under Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 12-1598.10(B), no creditor can garnish an individual’s wages if the debt is part of a debt consolidation or settlement program at the time of the writ of garnishment.
To qualify for the debt counseling exemption, you must follow the guidelines set forth by Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 12-1598.07. You must file an objection with the court within 10 days of receiving notice of the impending garnishment and attend a hearing.
At the hearing, the judge will review your supporting evidence to determine whether your debt meets the requirements and is part of a valid debt consolidation or settlement agreement. Your creditor cannot garnish your wages if the judge decides that it is.
Let’s consider an example.
Example: Jill owes a $3,000 balance on a credit card with Silver Bank. She stopped making payments, so Silver Bank decided to sue her in Arizona. Jill didn’t respond to the lawsuit, and Silver Bank obtained a default judgment against her. Now, Silver Bank plans to garnish Jill’s wages. Jill earns $1,000 weekly from her job after taxes. According to Arizona law, Jill’s employer must withhold $100 (10%) from her weekly pay until Jill satisfies the debt. The alternative option is $565, or $1,000 - (60 x $7.25). Since $100 is less than $565, it will apply in Jill’s case. She’ll pay the $100 for 30 weeks until she completely repays the loan.
The outcome of our example would be different if Jill’s debt were part of a debt settlement or consolidation plan with a qualified debt counselor. Jill could file an exemption showing the debt was part of a repayment plan, and the creditor wouldn’t be able to garnish Jill’s wages.
Learn more about wage garnishment in Arizona.
If a creditor decides to sue you in Arizona, you must follow a few steps to protect yourself.
First, don’t ignore your creditor’s Complaint. A Complaint describes the creditor’s grievances. It will list identifying information concerning the debt, like your account number and the amount you owe. Review the Complaint carefully to see if there are any errors, like a mistake in your account number or the total obligation due.
Next, you’ll want to draft an Answer. An Answer is a formal reply to your creditor’s Complaint. It describes your reasons for nonpayment and contains defenses you can use to argue against your creditor’s claim.
If you’ve never filled out an Answer before, you may want some assistance. SoloSuit has a Debt Answer template you can follow.
An Answer stops the court from granting a default judgment in your case. If you provide an Answer, the judge must listen to your arguments before making a final decision on the lawsuit.
You should take the appropriate steps to resolve the obligation before your court date, especially if the debt isn’t part of a repayment plan with a debt counselor. You can either repay the debt or attempt to settle it.
Repaying the debt before your court date is the best option. A complete repayment stops any further legal activity against you since you’ll no longer owe your creditor any money. The creditor will drop the case, and you can move on without worrying about wage garnishment.
If you can’t afford to fully repay the debt, settling it may be the next best option.
When you settle a debt, you offer the creditor a portion of the debt in a lump-sum payment. The creditor then agrees to release you from the remaining balance and drop the legal claim against you.
Debt settlement benefits both creditors and consumers. The creditor will receive part of the debt you owe without needing to go to court or fill out paperwork for a garnishment. You’ll also avoid court, and you’ll be able to put the debt behind you without fear that the creditor will start another lawsuit against you.
To learn more about how to settle your debt in Arizona, check out this video:
SoloSettle, powered by SoloSuit, is a tech-based approach to debt settlement. Our software helps you send and receive settlement offers until you reach an agreement with the collector. Once an agreement is reached, we’ll help you manage the settlement documentation and transfer your payment to the creditor or debt collector, helping you keep your financial information private and secure.
If you’ve fallen behind on your obligations, it’s time to get back on top — especially if you’re facing a debt lawsuit. If your creditor wins a debt lawsuit against you, it can garnish your wages, making it more challenging to pay your other bills. Take action by repaying or settling the debt, and move on from a tough situation.
Not sure how to start the debt settlement process? Try SoloSettle today.
SoloSuit makes it easy to fight debt collectors.
You can use SoloSuit to respond to a debt lawsuit, to send letters to collectors, and even to settle a debt.
SoloSuit's Answer service is a step-by-step web-app that asks you all the necessary questions to complete your Answer. Upon completion, we'll have an attorney review your document and we'll file it for you.
Here's a list of guides for other states.
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