Stop Wage Garnishment

To say the least, having your wages garnished is very upsetting. Your wages can be garnished when a creditor gets a judgment against you that you do not pay and returns to the court to get an order of garnishment. When this order takes effect, money is transferred directly from your paycheck to the creditor without you ever seeing it. This can have a devastating on both your financial and your personal life.

If a creditor is garnishing your wages, you may be able to stop the garnishment and even get some of your garnished wages back by filing a Chapter 13 or Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

When you file bankruptcy, an automatic stay goes into effect that effectively puts an end to most collection activities from your creditors.  This means that wage garnishments are also stopped as long as the bankruptcy stay is in effect. If a creditor wishes to recommence collection efforts, it must ask the court to lift the stay. The court will lift the stay only if the creditor has a valid reason for doing so. An unsecured creditor, like a credit card company, that simply wants to resume a wage garnishment is not a valid reason for the court to lift the stay.

However, it is very important to note that an automatic stay does not apply to such domestic support obligations as child support, spousal maintenance or alimony.  It also does not apply to student loans or tax obligations. These are considered priority debts that are unaffected by the automatic stay; they also may not be discharged by filing bankruptcy.  Thus, if your wages are being garnished to satisfy these types of debt, the garnishment will not stop if you file bankruptcy.

The automatic stay ends when you receive a discharge, your case is dismissed without a discharge or when the bankruptcy court removes the stay.  If you receive a discharge and the underlying obligation for the wage garnishment (such as credit card debt) was included in the discharge, the creditor cannot resume the garnishment to collect the debt after bankruptcy.  If your case gets dismissed without a discharge, the creditor can continue the wage garnishment after dismissal.

If certain conditions are met, you may be able to get some of your wages returned even if they were garnished before you filed for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. You can usually get back wages garnished within the 90-day prior to your bankruptcy filing if they totaled more than $600 and you have enough exemptions to cover them. If this fits your circumstance, you can file a complaint in your bankruptcy, requesting the creditor return your garnished wages.

When you file bankruptcy, you are required to list all your creditors so they can be notified of the bankruptcy.  However, there is a chance that creditors may not be alerted in time to put a stop on garnishments after the case is filed. If you want to make sure the garnishment stops immediately, you should give notice of the bankruptcy to the payroll department of the company at which you are employed. In addition, since most wage garnishments are handled by your local sheriff’s office, you should also notify the sheriff or other levying officer of your bankruptcy so they can put a stop to the garnishment right away.

When you are in extreme financial distress, you need to consult with an experienced and caring bankruptcy lawyer as soon as possible. He or she will be able to help you assess your economic situation and help you decide if bankruptcy is right for you. They will help you file for Chapter 13 or Chapter 7 personal bankruptcy and walk you through the requirements throughout the legal process.

If you would like to speak with a knowledgeable and experienced bankruptcy representative from Client First Bankruptcy, call us toll-free at 800-383-6004. Filing bankruptcy stops creditor harassment and wage garnishment in most cases, so call us right now. Relax, we’ve got your back.