What is Wage Garnishment?
Wage garnishment is an unfortunate consequence of defaulted debts. Once a creditor has brought a judgment against you, your options to stop garnishment may be limited. If this a situation that you are facing, the skilled and experienced wage garnishment lawyers of Wipe Away Debts are here to offer support and representation. You may not be sure if you need an attorney at this time, but there a number of wage garnishment scenarios in which our services may be very beneficial.
Let’s first consider the realities and challenges of wage garnishment. Wage garnishment is the periodic removal of funds from an individual due to a debt owed to a third party. Generally speaking, creditors will garnish wages from an individual through a court judgment, in which case your options for repayment will be limited but not erased entirely. In some specific situations – child support, alimony, back taxes, student loan debt – wage garnishment may occur without a judgment, which is referred to as administrative wage garnishment. This is entirely legal and is even the requirement in the situations listed.
In the event of a wage garnishment judgment, repaying the debt may be your only option. It is possible to speak to the creditors or attorneys working on their behalf to argue the debt allegedly owed – which is not advisable – or to work out a repayment plan that differs from what the creditor initially had in mind (though not strictly necessary, an attorney can be very helpful in the negotiation process). Sometimes garnishment can be avoided entirely if a repayment plan is set up early in the process. Further, it may not be advisable to seek legal counsel if your debts are small enough that legal fees would surpass debts owed to creditors. Let the attorneys at Wipe Away Debts know what your financial situation looks like and we will do our best to advise you on the best course of action.
However, there are some specific situations when you will require an attorney to give you the best possible representation. In the event of paid or misplaced debt – that you firmly believe you do not owe the debt alleged to you, that you have paid it or that it has been misattributed to you – it is strongly recommended that you seek legal counsel. Do not attempt to support your own case when skilled and experienced options can prevent potentially devastating garnishment from impacting your finances.
If you feel your employment status is being impacted by wage garnishment and your employer is attempting to fire you because of a creditor, it is imperative that you reach out to an attorney as soon as possible. It is illegal to discriminate against an individual because of debts owed to a third party. This is not a situation to handle without representation and it provides a strong case for those representing on your behalf.
It is also possible that the creditor garnishing your wages is taking more than is legally acceptable by the state of California. The general rule of thumb is that a creditor cannot take more than 25% of your wages, so if the number the creditor is asking for exceeds that amount, it is advisable to seek legal counsel to work out a new figure on your behalf.
One final option for stopping wage garnishment, one that will require the help of an attorney, is to file chapter 7 or chapter 13 bankruptcy. This serves a last resort but can be a relief to individuals who are overwhelmed by debts and garnishments. Filing bankruptcy puts a stop to wage garnishment through the concept of automatic stay, which prevents creditors from taking any further action on your case. The option to file for chapter 13 bankruptcy is available to individuals with any level of income but will require a 3-to-5-year repayment plan on all debts, whereas chapter 7 bankruptcy is quicker, but only serves as an option for those below a certain income bracket and may result in loss of property. Bear in mind, while bankruptcy does eliminate most wage garnishments, it cannot put a stop to child support, alimony payments, or student loan debt that has been accrued. For more information on bankruptcy filing and whether it may be right for you, please consult our bankruptcy article.
Wage garnishment can be a stressful and challenging situation for anyone. If you feel you have been wrongfully charged with debt, finding yourself confused by related paperwork, or need someone to negotiate on your behalf, the attorneys at Wipe Away Debts are here for you.