Need to Stop Wage Garnishment?

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If your wages are being garnished, there are a few things you can do stop or reduce the withholdings from your paycheck.

How Does Wage Garnishment Get Started?

Wage garnishment almost always starts with a debtor owing a creditor money, and not paying that debt. The best way to avoid wage garnishments is to avoid unpaid debt.

If you do owe money, your creditor can file suit against you asking to garnish your wages to recover that money. A court can issue a writ of wage garnishment based on the evidence submitted in the suit. The court can order your employer to withhold a determined fixed sum from your paycheck each month. This money that is withheld is deposited as directed in the writ of wage garnishment.

Avoid Getting Sued

It is worth repeating: Pay your debts. And avoid getting sued. If a creditor is willing to take you to court and sue you, chances are good that the creditor has tried many other methods to get the money you owe them. Resorting to filing suit and getting a judgment to garnish wages is usually the last step for most creditors to collect a debt.

If you cannot repay the debt, or are having trouble making payments, call your creditor right away. Do not ignore your creditor. Call them to discuss your problems and reasons you are unable to pay. Many lending institutions are remarkably willing to work out a repayment plan.

Pay Off Your Debt

When a court has issued a writ to garnish wages, it's not too late to simply pay off your debt. If you completely pay your debt within 10 days of the judgment being passed, the writ of wage garnishment becomes invalid.

Appeal for Your Rights

If your wages are being garnished so much that you are unable to meet basic needs such food, healthcare, and housing, you can file an appeal in the court that issued the wage garnishment writ with a claim of exemption. Courts understand that everyone has a right to meet their minimum living requirements. You have rights to defend if your wages are garnished.

The court that issued the writ has forms for your claim of exemption. Once you submit the claim, a hearing date will be set. It's up to you to attend the hearing with proof that the wage garnishment is preventing you form meeting your basic needs. Bring documentation of your monthly income and all monthly expenses such as mortgage or rent payments, food costs, health care, and the like.

If the court agrees that garnishing your wages is preventing you from fulfilling you basic living needs, the court can set aside the original writ, or issue a new one with smaller monthly withholdings.

When All Else Fails, Declare Bankruptcy

Declaring bankruptcy is a last resort. Bankruptcy can negatively impact your credit rating for years.

If you must file for bankruptcy, proceed cautiously. Once you file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, all of your creditors must stop all collection proceedings, including wage garnishments.

Different Wage Garnishments for Different Creditors

Wages can be garnished to collect unpaid credit card debt and other loans. For these kinds of debts, working out a new repayment plan, adjusting the withholding of your garnished wages, and even filing for bankruptcy can be effective.

However, most wage garnishments are used to collect unpaid taxes, child or spousal support, and penalties for committing a crime. In these cases, hire a wage garnishment lawyer and work with the authorities and agencies for a resolution.

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