Sarah Edwards | June 30, 2023
Edited by Hannah Locklear
Summary: In Missouri, creditors can garnish your wages for up to 25% of your disposable earnings if you default on a debt. Fortunately, you have options. If you’ve been sued for debt in Missouri, you should respond to the case with a written Answer to prevent losing and a subsequent garnishment. Otherwise, you can use SoloSettle to settle your debt and avoid wage garnishment in the first place.
If you’re behind on debt in Missouri, you may wonder what the potential consequences are. You know that your creditor probably isn’t going to let you off the hook, so what’s the next tactic that it will use against you?
Creditors and collection agencies typically follow the same pattern when someone stops paying their bills. They’ll start sending letters, and you may receive more phone calls from unknown numbers. These efforts at communication will continue for a while until they decide you’re not going to reply.
At that point, they’ll probably decide to sue you. Winning a debt lawsuit allows them to take more drastic collection action, like garnishing your wages. Rather than giving in to wage garnishment, you want to take steps to prevent it. If you don’t, you’ll find a significant portion of your income in your creditors' hands.
Creditors can’t randomly ask your employer to withhold part of your pay to satisfy a debt. They must go through a judicial process first. If you receive a summons for a debt lawsuit against you, your creditor plans to ask the court for a judgment it can use to garnish your wages or seize other property you own.
You should never ignore a court summons from a creditor. While your initial reaction may be anger or fear, you should get your wits together and read it with an objective eye.
Note the creditor’s name and any identifying information about the debt, including your account number and the amount of the obligation. If any of the information is incorrect, you can use it to your advantage.
Your next step is to draft an Answer to the creditor’s Complaint. An Answer outlines your defense to your creditor’s legal claim against you. You’ll want to file an Answer even if you have no valid defense and everything in your creditor’s Complaint is accurate.
Your Answer prevents your creditor from asking the court for a default judgment against you. Instead, you’ll get a chance to defend yourself. If you don’t provide an Answer, the judge will listen only to your creditor’s side of the story, which won’t be favorable to you.
Not sure how to respond to your debt lawsuit? Draft and file an Answer with SoloSuit in minutes.
You have two options to stop the lawsuit: repay the debt before your court date or arrange a settlement.
Repaying the debt stops the lawsuit in its tracks. When you pay off the obligation, there is no longer a reason to sue you. Your creditor will drop the case and report the debt paid to the credit reporting bureaus. You can relax, knowing you don’t need to worry about court or the debt anymore.
If the debt is small, like $300 or less, repaying the debt may be your only option. Creditors aren’t as likely to accept a debt settlement for small debts. If you don’t have the money in savings, consider borrowing it from a family member or friend.
Your other option is debt settlement.
In a debt settlement, you agree to make a lump-sum payment for a portion of the obligation. Once the creditor receives your payment, it will drop the lawsuit and release you from the remainder of the debt.
Settling the debt accomplishes your goal: avoiding a debt lawsuit and its repercussions, such as wage garnishment. Check out the following video to learn more about how to settle your debt and avoid wage garnishment:
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.
The state of Missouri has strict laws concerning wage garnishment. According to Mo. Ann. Stat. § 525.030, a creditor who wins a judgment against you and garnishes your wages can seize the lesser of:
Missouri laws do give some relief for individuals who are the primary supporters of dependents. A head of a family who is a Missouri resident can claim an exemption that reduces the wage garnishment to 10% of their disposable earnings.
In Missouri, disposable earnings are equal to the net income from a job, bonus, commission, pension, or retirement benefits after required withholdings, like taxes.
Let’s consider an example.
Example: Sherry owes Red Bank $3,000 on an old personal loan. She stopped making payments on the debt when she experienced financial difficulties. Red Bank sued her for the debt and won a judgment, which it is now using to garnish her Missouri wages. Sherry is a Missouri resident and the head of household for her family, which includes two dependent sons. She earns $1,500 weekly from her job after taxes. The maximum amount that Red Bank can garnish Sherry’s wages is $150, or 10% of her disposable earnings. It’s the lesser of the two options since $1,500 - (30 x $7.25) equals $1,282.50. Her garnishment will continue for 20 weeks until she pays off the loan.
In our example, Sherry benefits from a lower garnishment amount since she’s the head of her household and a Missouri resident. However, if she were not a head of household, Red Bank could seize 25% of her pay, or $375 weekly.
A wage garnishment can make your life miserable. Once your creditors start garnishing your wages, you’ll find it harder to keep up with your other financial responsibilities, like rent and car payments.
You don’t need to accept a wage garnishment. Instead, try to negotiate a settlement with your creditor before your court date. With a little effort, you can avoid the pain of court and satisfy the debt before it becomes a bigger issue.
Not sure how to start the debt settlement process? SoloSettle can help.
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.
You can ask your questions on the SoloSuit forum and the community will help you out. Whether you need help now are are just look for support, we're here for you.
Is your credit card company suing you? Learn how you can beat each one.
Need more info on statutes of limitations? Read our 50-state guide.
Need help managing your finances? Check out these resources.
Out Debt Validation Letter is the best way to respond to a collection letter. Many debt collectors will simply give up after receiving it.
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