Garnishment can be an effective way for a creditor to receive his or her money, but it can be devastating for you (Filing either a chapter 7 bankruptcy or a chapter 13 bankruptcy would stop the garnishment). That's why there are laws in place to protect you, and law practices such as ours to help you.
Generally, the garnishment process begins when you stop paying a creditor, and in response, the creditor goes to court and wins a case against you. The creditor then gets a "judgment" against you, which is a court order that details how much you owe and the interest rate you must pay on the unpaid amount.
Next, the creditor gets an order from the court to garnish your property. Before the creditor can actually take anything - either property or wages - the creditor must give notice of the garnishment. The notice must include:
- A clear statement that garnishment has occurred
- A description of the primary "exemptions" from garnishment - that is, what the creditor can't take
- A description of the procedures that you can follow to contest the garnishment; you will be given the chance to go to court and explain why garnishment should not be allowed
Finally, the creditor can take the judgment and garnishment order to the local sheriff and ask that the judgment be "levied" or "applied."
A wage garnishment is when the sheriff presents your employer with garnishment papers, ordering your employer to take out a certain amount each time you're paid, until the debt is paid off. The law requires your employer to withhold the correct amount from your paycheck or be legally liable for it.
Under federal law, the creditor can only take a specified amount from your paychecks, which is based upon a percentage of your "disposable earnings," that is, your pay minus required deductions, like state and federal taxes and Social Security withholdings. Some funds, such as social security benefits and retirement plan benefit, are exempt from garnishments. However, many exempt funds can be garnished to pay child or spousal support.
While garnishment can be a difficult process to face, you don't have to fight it alone. Our experienced staff is here to help. Call us today!