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Stop Wage Garnishment in Louisiana

Sarah Edwards | June 28, 2023

Sarah Edwards
Legal Expert
Sarah Edwards, BS

Sarah Harris is a professional researcher and writer specializing in legal content. An Emerson College alumna, she holds a Bachelor of Science in Communication from the prestigious Boston institution.

Edited by Hannah Locklear

Hannah Locklear
Editor at SoloSuit
Hannah Locklear, BA

Hannah Locklear is SoloSuit’s Marketing and Impact Manager. With an educational background in Linguistics, Spanish, and International Development from Brigham Young University, Hannah has also worked as a legal support specialist for several years.

Summary: Creditors who garnish your Louisiana wages can seize up to 25% of your weekly income. If you’ve been sued for a debt, you can fight the lawsuit by filing an Answer into your case. Otherwise, you can prevent wage garnishment through debt settlement. SoloSettle makes the debt settlement process easier.

When you have trouble making your monthly payments to creditors, they’ll usually try to work with you, especially if you’re facing an unexpected issue, like job loss or health problems. They may allow you to make smaller payments or forgive late fees for a few months.

Problems occur when you can’t get back on track with your payments. Your creditor will increase its collections efforts with calls and letters, but it may give up at some point. It will probably decide to sue you or sell your debt to a collections agency that will expedite the payment process.

If your creditor is suing you for debt in Louisiana, taking action is crucial. Ignoring a debt lawsuit can leave you in hot financial water.

Settle your debt to avoid wage garnishment.

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Defend yourself from wage garnishment

Creditors can’t simply order your employer to start withholding wages from you. Instead, they must go through a legal process, which involves winning a debt lawsuit against you.

If a lender decides to sue you, you’ll receive a Complaint. The Complaint will list the amount of the debt you owe and details about the creditor and your account. You’ll want to read the Complaint carefully and compare it with your own records.

You’ll need to respond to the lawsuit with an Answer. An Answer is your defense to the debt lawsuit. In it, you’ll explain your reasons for not paying the obligation or argue against the validity of the case.

Not sure what to include in your Answer? Watch the following video for tips on drafting your Answer to a debt lawsuit:

When you go to court, an Answer stops the judge from granting a default judgment against you. Instead, the judge will listen to your side of the story before deciding on your case’s outcome.

If it wins the lawsuit, the creditor can start the wage garnishment process. Wage garnishment allows the creditor to collect some of your earnings until you pay off your debt.

Louisiana has strict wage garnishment laws

Every state sets its own wage garnishment limits. Louisiana has some of the highest limits in the nation. Under La. Rev. Stat. § 13:3881, another party can garnish your wages for the lesser of:

  • 25% of your disposable weekly earnings.
  • The amount your income exceeds 30 times the federal minimum wage, which is currently $7.25 per hour.

Under the law, disposable earnings equal your salary, less any withholdings like federal or state taxes.

As you can see, wage garnishment will take a serious bite out of your income. Depending on your earnings and the amount you owe, you may experience months of wage garnishment that make it substantially difficult to pay for your other needs, like shelter and transportation.

Let’s consider an example.

Example: Morty is behind on a debt that he owes to his bank, Florida Retirement Savings & Loan. The outstanding balance is $2,250, and he stopped making payments six months ago. Florida Retirement Savings & Loan decides to sue him for unpaid debt. Since Morty doesn’t defend himself, the court awards the bank a default judgment against him. The bank uses the decision to start the wage garnishment process. Morty earns $900 weekly, so under Louisiana law, his employer must withhold $225 from each of Morty’s paychecks. It’s the lesser of the two options since the other alternative equals $682.50, or $900 - (30 x $7.25). The garnishment will continue for ten weeks until Morty repays the entire obligation.

Morty could have avoided wage garnishment if he had settled the debt or tried to work with his creditors.

Avoid wage garnishment in Louisiana through debt settlement

Settling your debt before going to court is a great way to prevent wage garnishment. In debt settlement, you offer the creditor a fraction of the debt’s value in exchange for releasing you from the remaining balance. Debt settlement saves you money and allows you to move on from the obligation without fearing further legal action or wage garnishment.

SoloSettle, powered by SoloSuit, makes the debt settlement process easier. Our software helps you send and receive settlement offers until you reach an agreement with your creditor. Then, we help you document the agreement and transfer your settlement payment for you, keeping your financial information safe from debt collectors.

To learn more about debt settlement, check out this video:

Stop a wage garnishment in Louisiana

When you receive notice of a pending debt lawsuit against you, don’t ignore it. If your creditor has no legitimate case against you, prepare to fight it. For example, if you’re the victim of identity theft, you’ll want to present a copy of the police report you filed.

If you owe the debt, you have two other options to avoid wage garnishment: repaying the debt or declaring bankruptcy.

Repaying the debt before your court date is the best option. When you repay the debt, the creditor stops legal action against you and reports the obligation paid in full to the credit reporting bureaus. You no longer need to worry about the legal process. However, if you don’t have much in savings, it’s challenging to pay the entire amount of your debt.

This option requires you to find the money to pay your debt. If you’re short on cash, consider selling a few items you don’t need or contacting a close family member for help.

Your final option is bankruptcy. Sometimes, bankruptcy can stop creditors from winning judgments against you or garnishing your wages. However, you shouldn’t consider bankruptcy unless your financial problems are unsolvable and you don’t have another alternative.

Bankruptcy may wipe away your unsecured debts, but you’ll find it tough to obtain future loans or qualify for a new place to live for years.

Act quickly to avoid wage garnishment

Your creditor can’t wake up one day and decide to garnish your wages. It will need to follow a legal process to gain access to your earnings, which includes winning a debt lawsuit.

You can protect yourself from wage garnishment by repaying or settling the debt. Don’t simply bend to your creditor’s will; instead, take action and communicate. That way, you’ll avoid the adverse impacts of wage garnishment on your employment and monthly earnings.

Do you need help filing an Answer in a Louisiana Debt Lawsuit? Use SoloSuit’s Debt Answer template.

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