If you owe money to a creditor, they can get a court order to collect it, often through wage garnishment. A creditor authorized to garnish wages will take a portion of what you earn, possibly leaving little left to spend. However, you can stop this from happening by hiring a wage garnishment lawyer.
Reasons for Wage Garnishment
A creditor might take this approach to pay a judgment it has obtained against you. First, it must file documents with the court. By court order, it can request your employer deduct funds from your wages to satisfy your debt.
However, wages can be garnished without the creditor obtaining a judgment. An administrative wage garnishment is often used to collect child and spousal support, even if you agree to voluntarily pay it. Back taxes and federal student loan debt can also be collected this way.
When Do I Need an Attorney?
First, learn about the garnishment as much as you can by reviewing any available documentation. Contact the creditor with any questions you have. You can also discuss the situation with your employer’s payroll department or your bank/financial institution. If wage garnishment has been authorized by a court judgment, you might want to look at public records or contact the court to learn who is taking your income and why.
An attorney can be useful when:
- You have already paid the debt.
- You don’t owe the debt in question.
- A creditor is garnishing too much.
- You’re willing to work out other payment arrangements.
- The creditor garnishes a bank account to get around a wage exemption.
- Bankruptcy is an option; it can put an automatic stay on most wage garnishments.
- Your employer threatens to fire you over wage garnishment, which is illegal.
If legal fees exceed the amount of debt you owe, hiring a lawyer may not make sense. A trustworthy legal professional will provide honest answers to help you decide on the best course of action.
Wage Garnishment Considerations
Whether your goal is to stop wage garnishment or navigate the process, it can help to have a wage garnishment lawyer. This is due to the following reasons:
- There Are Limits on Wage Garnishments: A creditor cannot garnish more than 25% of your wages for debt. For child support, up to 50% of your pay can be taken (or 60% for past due child support) through an Income Withholding Order. If you owe back taxes, up to 75% of your wages can be garnished.
- You Can Object to Wage Garnishment: If pension income, social security, or other funds protected by law are in question, you’ve agreed to an installment payment order or filed for bankruptcy, you can file an Objection to Garnishment. Such is the case if the amount being garnished is over the limit or the court judgment was already paid.
- Filing a Motion for Installment Payments: This must be done through the court and can stop creditors from taking wages. There are legal procedures, so it helps to have an attorney. And if you don’t make the required payments, the creditor can file to resume wage garnishments.
A wage garnishment lawyer can consider options such as debt settlement. This depends on the disposable income available after wage losses. If you have little or no disposable income, you may qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which can reduce or wipe out your debts. The process may take five or six months. Chapter 13 bankruptcy may be another option if you have some income left after bills; while it restructures debts and payments, it can take years to complete.
Filing for bankruptcy stops all wage garnishment actions. Also, wages garnished within 90 days of a bankruptcy case may be returned to the employee after a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 is filed. Your lawyer will ensure any funds exempt from the garnishment process are promptly returned.
Hire a Wage Garnishment Lawyer with OakTree Law
Do you feel you’re being subject to unfair actions, or are you dealing with an unruly creditor? OakTree Law can help. When it comes to garnishing wages, you have rights and there are protections under state and federal law. Our Los Angeles wage garnishment lawyers are ready to take your case and discuss all available solutions. To get started, request a free evaluation or call 888-348-2609.