Sarah Edwards | May 10, 2023
Summary: Wage garnishment in Massachusetts allows creditors to take 15% of your weekly income. One of the best ways to prevent a Michigan wage garnishment is to settle your debt with the help of SoloSettle.
Is a creditor or debt collector hounding you for money? Finding the cash to repay your bills can be tricky, especially if you’re experiencing financial issues. Unexpected expenses, medical problems, and family emergencies can all impact your ability to repay your debts.
While it may be tempting to ignore a creditor until you get on better financial footing, you’re putting yourself at risk for a debt lawsuit and potential wage garnishment. Creditors don’t like it when you ignore them, and they’ll likely step up their attempts to collect money from you.
If a creditor or debt collector initiates a lawsuit against you, you must react quickly by repaying the debt, setting up a payment arrangement, or settling the matter. If your creditor wins a debt lawsuit, they’ll obtain a judgment that allows them to garnish your Massachusetts wages.
You can avoid wage garnishment entirely when you settle the debt before going to court.
Massachusetts laws concerning wage garnishment are a bit more lenient than in other states, but that doesn’t mean you won’t pay. According to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 246 § 28, creditors and debt collectors who obtain a judgment against you can garnish your wages for the lesser of:
Your gross wages equal your entire salary for the week before taxes and other withholdings. Some states limit wage garnishment to a percentage of disposable income, which is net pay after taxes and other legally required deductions. However, Massachusetts isn’t one of them.
The current minimum wage in Massachusetts is $15.00 hourly, and the federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. When calculating the amount of your wage garnishment, authorities will compare the withholding using the Massachusetts minimum wage against 15% of your gross wages. The lesser option will be the amount of your weekly wage garnishment.
Let’s consider an example.
Example: Harriet owes $2,500 for an old CarMax loan she stopped paying. CarMax sues her for debt in Massachusetts and wins a judgment. It uses the judgment against Harriet to garnish her wages. Currently, Harriet earns $1,250 weekly in gross wages. A garnishment will allow CarMax to obtain 15% of Harriet’s weekly income, or $187.50, until she pays off her debt. That is the lesser of the two options since $1,250 - (50 x $15) = $500. The CarMax garnishment will continue for 14 weeks until Harriet pays the entire debt.
You’ll want to keep on good terms with your creditors to prevent wage garnishment in Massachusetts. Creditors have no reason to pursue legal action against you unless you stop paying your bills. That’s when things tend to go south.
If you’re just a few months behind on a credit card, the creditor will likely be amenable to a payment arrangement to get you back on track. It may agree to forgo late fees or extra interest if you get current on your payments. However, if you ignore a creditor’s phone calls and letters, it may pursue legal action against you or sell your obligation to a debt collector.
Once a creditor or debt collector decides to sue you, you must make some crucial decisions. The best course of action is to repay the debt. Paying your obligation prevents a judgment against you and wage garnishment. You’ll avoid court and any further legal ramifications.
Learn how to settle a debt in three steps with this video:
However, repaying the debt isn’t always possible. Sometimes, people can’t come up with the entire amount due. If that’s the case for you, you can try to settle the debt or set up a payment arrangement.
In a debt settlement, you offer a percentage of the total amount due as a one-time payment. In exchange, your creditor agrees to release you from the remaining balance and drops the lawsuit. The more you can offer your creditor, the more likely it will agree to a settlement.
Creditors and debt collectors view settlements as advantageous since they’ll collect most of your obligation and avoid the administrative burden of court and wage garnishment.
If you successfully settle your debt, you no longer need to worry about wage garnishment. Keep out of future trouble by staying on top of your finances.
When a creditor wins a judgment against you, it will probably initiate wage garnishment quickly. You’ll have just a few weeks before your employer will dock your pay and send the garnished wages to your creditor.
To stop the process from reaching your employer, you can arrange to repay the obligation immediately. At this point, a settlement is probably off the table. The creditor will want the entire amount due.
If you can’t fully repay the debt, bankruptcy is the only alternative to avoid wage garnishment.
Declaring bankruptcy is serious, and you’ll want to think very carefully before starting the process. Bankruptcy will damage your credit for years, making it difficult to obtain a new loan or buy a home. In some cases, it may be better to put up with a few months of garnished wages than years of financial pain brought on by bankruptcy.
However, people who are deep in debt and don’t see a feasible way out may find bankruptcy attractive. Bankruptcy will eliminate most unsecured debts, giving you a clean financial slate you can use to start over.
Once you get on a creditor’s bad side, it may decide to take legal action against you. You can protect yourself from judgment and wage garnishment by paying or settling the debt. Don’t let the situation worsen; determine your options and take the appropriate action.
Is a creditor suing you for debt in Massachusetts? Settle your debt with SoloSettle.
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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