Have you been hit with a wage garnishment by a creditor? Wage garnishment is not only an embarrassment (after all, now your employer has been involved and knows that you’ve accrued debt that you haven’t repaid), it also represents a court-imposed financial hit that you may not feel able to afford. One way to counter a wage garnishment is to file for bankruptcy, but you do have other options. Here are just a few:

  • Stop a wage garnishment before it starts. In most cases, your creditor would prefer to come up with a payment plan without having to go to court to get a judgment against you. When you receive the final warning, the letter is known as a “demand letter,” call them to see whether you can negotiate a better payment plan.
  • Check with the clerk of your municipal or county court. Both New Jersey and Pennsylvania limit the percentage of your wages that can be garnished to a greater degree than federal laws do. Check to see whether the amount that is being taken is within your state’s guidelines and if they are then seeking help from an attorney or a credit counseling service.
  • File an objection or an appeal to the garnishment. You can request a hearing in court in which to object to the garnishment. There are several grounds on which you can base your objection, but the most common is that the creditor is taking too great a percentage of your disposable income. Keep in mind that this objection only works if the wage garnishment is from a creditor: child support and alimony garnishment can represent as much as 50-60% of disposable earnings. One important note: do not file an objection without attending the hearing. Not showing up makes the garnishment automatic, while appearing not only gives you the chance to be heard, but also to negotiate with the creditor.
  • Challenge the wage garnishment judgment. This can be done based on legal technicalities such as never having been properly served or having paid the creditor.

Stopping a wage garnishment can be a complicated process, as there are different types of hearings at which objections can be filed, and different types of motions that are appropriate for different scenarios. Your best option is to consult a bankruptcy attorney who can walk you through the various steps and provide you with the guidance you need. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help.

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