Stopping Your Wages from Being Garnished

Published: 26th January 2012
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Having your wages garnished is, obviously, a rather stressful situation and many people are unsure of how this perfectly legal act takes place. Wage garnishments may occur not only in the case of unpaid child support, alimony, and owing back taxes but also when creditors successfully win a lawsuit against you the debtor and have your employer deduct a portion of your earnings from your paycheck until the debt is paid. Keep in mind that a creditor may be anyone you owe money to whether it is a credit card company, a previous landlord, or someone you were involved in an accident with.

Although it should go without saying, the easiest and most obvious way of preventing a wage garnishment is to ensure it never happens in the first place. Don't be afraid to ask if it is possible to set up a monthly payment plan with the creditor attempting to have your wages garnished as many are willing to work with debtors even up until the very day of the court hearing. Unfortunately, many simply ignore letters, calls, and notifications of impending court dates either out of fear or disregard and avoid talking to their creditors at all. Of course the situation is an unpleasant one but it will most certainly become worse after you struggle trying to live off of a garnished paycheck.

Immediately paying off the debt in question will stop your wages from being garnished. And, you don't necessarily have to pay the entire amount due either as many creditors are willing to lower the debt if a lump sum is remitted. After your payment is received you can then submit proof that the matter has been settled thereby rendering the wage garnishment null and void. If this all sounds like the ideal scenario that's because that is exactly what it is and something people aren't able to do since they likely would have paid the debt off before it escalated to a court order to garnish wages.

According to the law, even if your wages are garnished you must still have enough left over in order to provide for all the basic necessities you and your legal dependents need such as food, money for rent or the mortgage payment, health and medical care, and transportation costs. If your wages have already been garnished and you find that it is causing a hardship you will need to file a claim of exemption. This document is filed with the court and must list all of your expenses in detail along with your total income. Once the court reviews the figures it will make a determination as to whether or not the amount garnished from your paycheck should be lowered or if the wage garnishment should be stopped altogether.

If the amount you owe is excessive, you may be able to file for bankruptcy, however, an experienced and qualified attorney will be able to advise you as to how to proceed or if this option should even be considered. Once you have filed for bankruptcy your creditors are legally barred from trying to collect the debt including garnishing wages or seizing your property. The exact specifics will depend on the chapter of bankruptcy filed. For example, Chapter 7 law calls for all assets to be liquidated in order to pay for the debt while Chapter 13 will allow the filer to make repayment over a period of up to five years. Even with Chapter 7 most are able to keep the majority of their personal effects including their home and auto.

An important point to remember is that bankruptcy excludes certain types of debts in most cases including money owed on back taxes or on a federally guaranteed loan you have defaulted on. Monies owed for crimes committed to be paid as restitution or court ordered alimony or child support payments in arrears are also usually excluded from the various chapters of bankruptcy.

And finally, never make the common mistake of thinking you can solve the problem of wage garnishment by changing your place of employment. In most states, employers are required by law to report any and all new hires upon employment meaning that your creditors, or the courts, will have very little difficulty garnishing your new paycheck.

Jenny Miles is a writer who is interested in financial subjects, such as credit problems and bankruptcy. Find out more about how to stop garnishment on her blog.wage

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