Sarah Edwards | April 14, 2023
Summary: You may face wage garnishment if you’ve recently lost a debt lawsuit. Colo. Rev. Stat § 13-54-104 can prevent wage garnishment of more than 20% of your disposable weekly earnings in Colorado. Use SoloSuit to respond to debt collectors and avoid wage garnishment altogether.
If your financial problems are spiraling out of control, there’s a chance that you may experience wage garnishment. Creditors, debt collectors, ex-spouses, tax authorities, and other entities can pursue a wage garnishment against you for unpaid debt, child support, taxes, and student loans.
People who obtain a wage garnishment order against you will receive a portion of your paycheck until you repay your debt. That means you’ll have less money to spend on other needs, like housing, food, and transportation. If you’re having trouble making ends meet now, a wage garnishment will make your life miserable.
You can avoid wage garnishment when you settle your debt before going to court.
Unless your debt relates to child support, student loans, or back taxes, the entity that you owe money to will need to sue you before they can garnish your wages.
Typically, their actions will start small. When you fall behind on your debt, you’ll receive phone calls and letters from your creditor. That’s your cue to resolve the situation before it gets out of hand.
Ideally, you’ll make arrangements to repay the debt to your creditor. Setting up a repayment plan or repaying the obligation in full means you won’t need to worry about the debt anymore. If you ignore the creditor or debt collector, they may decide to sue you.
Resolving a debt before it goes to court is in your best interests unless you genuinely don’t owe it. You’ll need to respond to the debt lawsuit with an Answer. Your Answer will explain your reasons for non-payment, such as a lack of validation of the debt or a claim past your state’s statute of limitations.
Watch this video to learn how to file an Answer to a summons for debt:
If you don’t have a defense to the debt lawsuit, it’s best to repay the obligation or settle it before your court date. That way, you avoid the potential for wage garnishment.
Creditors and debtors are usually open to debt settlement since they’ll collect a good portion of the money you owe up front and avoid the administrative hassle of wage garnishment.
Creditors who win a debt lawsuit against you will obtain a judgment, which they can use to garnish your wages. Usually, the situation is entirely preventable if you make arrangements to repay your debt before it gets to the legal stage.
Colorado allows creditors and debt collectors to garnish your wages if they win a judgment against you. According to Colo. Rev. Stat § 13-54-104, creditors and debt collectors can garnish your wages for the lesser of
Colorado’s current state minimum wage is $13.65, and the federal minimum wage is $7.25 hourly. Since the state minimum wage is higher, the court would use it instead of the federal minimum wage when determining the amount of your wage garnishment.
Your disposable earnings equal your income after deductions, like federal and state payroll taxes and health insurance.
Let’s consider an example.
Example: Alexandra owes Chase Bank $2,500 for an old loan she stopped paying. Chase Bank sues Alexandra in a Colorado court and wins their lawsuit. The judge agrees that Chase Bank can garnish Alexandra’s wages. Alexandra earns $900 weekly after taxes. Under the law, Chase Bank can garnish up to 20% of Alexandra’s weekly paycheck, or $180. It’s the lesser of the two options since the excess of 40 times the state minimum wage equals $900 — (40 x $13.65), or $354. Alexandra will pay $180 weekly for the next 13 paychecks. Her 14th paycheck will cover the remaining $160 due. Essentially, Alexandra will pay Chase Bank $720 monthly — a significant loss of her monthly income.
Colorado has different limitations for child support. Under Colo. Rev. Stat § 13-54-104, people who owe back child support can lose between 50 to 65% of their disposable income, depending on the age of the debt and whether they are supporting another spouse or dependent child.
You have a few options if a creditor obtains the right to garnish your wages. You can repay the money up front and avoid the embarrassment and hassle of wage garnishment with your employer. Paying off the obligation stops further legal action against you.
SoloSuit can help you file an Answer to a debt lawsuit. Use our Debt Answer template to get started.
However, sometimes it’s impossible to come up with the money to satisfy the entire judgment. Do what you can; examine your savings and ask relatives or friends if you can borrow money. You can also consider selling things you don’t need for some instant cash.
Your other option is bankruptcy. Filing bankruptcy will stop wage garnishment efforts from creditors and debtors. They won’t be able to claim money from your paycheck.
Declaring bankruptcy is the nuclear option, and you should consider it only if your financial situation is extremely bleak. It’s highly damaging to your credit, and you’ll find it much harder to obtain a loan, an apartment, or even a job.
However, you’ll wipe out the debt and other unsecured obligations you owe. Bankruptcy gives you a clean financial slate, allowing you to build better future financial habits.
If you owe a debt, it’s best to make arrangements to repay it. Your creditor or debt collector will likely pursue a debt lawsuit against you if you don’t. Creditors and debt collectors who successfully win their lawsuits obtain a judgment allowing them to take more drastic action, like garnishing your wages.
Wage garnishment in Colorado entitles creditors or debt collectors to 20% of your disposable income until you fully satisfy the debt. It’s a significant amount of money that can diminish your ability to pay for your other needs.
Don’t allow a creditor or debt collector to gain control over your finances. Instead, take action early and negotiate an arrangement you can live with.
Is a creditor suing you for unpaid debt in Colorado? SoloSettle can help you settle your debt and avoid court. Check out this video to learn more:
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.
Being sued by a different debt collector? Were making guides on how to beat each one.
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