By Ryan C. Wood
Garnishment is the result of a lawsuit and the enforcement of the judgment obtained in the lawsuit. The good news is that filing for bankruptcy protection will stop the wage garnishment and get rid of the lawsuit forever.
Many collection agencies threaten to garnish wages to attempt to scare people into making payments on delinquent accounts. The fact is that they must first file a lawsuit against you, served you with the lawsuit, obtain a judgment, then writ of garnishment or writ of execution, then serve the earnings withholding order on your employer. Whew, that is a lot of steps. The hardest part of this process is usually personally serving you with the lawsuit. Once they have served you it will only be a matter of time before they can obtain a judgment against you. Of course you may have a valid defense. If so, seek the counsel of an experienced attorney to represent you. In most cases that involve credit cards there are no valid defenses. It is a straightforward breach of contract for failure to pay. So if you are behind on a credit card or owe money to someone the question always is, “Are they going to take the time, effort and money to follow the garnishment laws and actually be able to legally garnish your wages?” Who knows?
What is certain is once all the necessary steps have been completed to garnish your wages it hurts your income severely. The amount that can be garnished varies from state to state, but what is garnished is deducted from your net income. Yes, after federal and state taxes are deducted, healthcare costs or other deductions, then thee garnishment is deducted. Ouch. Each state has exemptions you can claim to reduce the amount that can be garnished each paycheck. Depending upon your circumstances, like have ten kids you have to feed, you could reduce the amount garnished quite a bit. Even though you can be legally garnished that does not mean you will not be allowed to live and eat.
Every check will be garnished until the judgment is satisfied in full up to ten years. The judgment is only good for ten years and must be renewed if it is not satisfied in full. The amount of the judgment will be more than what you originally owed too. Do not forget that there will be attorney fees and costs added into the judgment and you will have to pay that back too.
For more information about garnishment and how bankruptcy can help, contact our Oakland bankruptcy lawyers today. If you are located on the Peninsula, contact our Redwood City bankruptcy attorneys for more information about garnishment and bankruptcy.