Is There Hardship Exemption to Wage Garnishment Under Mississippi Law?

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Creditors with judgment rulings against debtors in Mississippi can garnish the debtor's wages until the debt is satisfied. Mississippi follows federal garnishment guidelines for exempt and non-exempt income. Wages and salaries are considered non-exempt income and are subject to garnishment. Social Security benefits, insurance payments and retirement benefits may be exempt from garnishment in most cases. Mississippi does allow hardship exemptions to wage garnishment under certain circumstances.

Definition of Garnishment

  • Garnishment is a legal term that directs a third party to apply money owned by a debtor as payment of a debt. Under Mississippi law, garnishment is available for any type of debt or payment obligation, but only with the help of the court system. Wage garnishment is a common solution for collection, but other income may also be subject to garnishment.

Maximum Threshold

  • Federal and Mississippi laws allow creditors the option to take 25 percent of a debtor's disposable income as payment for the judgment debt. Disposable income for garnishment purposes is the amount of money left from wages and salaries after subtracting legally required payroll deductions authorized by the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA). An alternative option open to creditors for wage garnishment calculation occurs if a debtor's weekly income is more than 30 times the minimum wage. Creditors are allowed to take either the amount in excess of the 30 times amount or 25 percent of the disposable income, whichever is less.

Process

  • The first step to wage garnishment for creditors is to obtain a court-ordered judgment against the debtor. Creditors must then obtain a writ of garnishment from the court against a third party having possession of the debtor's money. For example, if a credit card company --- the creditor --- wins a judgment against you --- the debtor --- for an unpaid credit card account, the creditor has the right to petition the court for a writ --- court order --- as a means of collecting the debt. The court issues the writ against your employer or bank, ordering it to withhold money from your wages or to extract money from your bank account until the debt is paid. The withheld funds are sent to the creditor.

Hardship Exemptions

  • Debtors in Mississippi may stop a wage garnishment if they can prove hardship in the court system that granted the initial judgment. After being notified of a writ of garnishment related to a judgment against him, the debtor must file papers to request a hearing to prove hardship. Hardship exemptions may be granted if the debtor proves that she is unable to pay for basic necessities, such as food, utilities and rent, due to the wage garnishment. Financial hardship that relates to a debtor can also apply to the debtor's spouse and dependents.

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