Did you receive legal notice that your wages will be garnished to pay off debts? You might immediately be filled with panic.
What does this mean?
Can my employer fire me?
What can I do to fight this?
Relax – you have options. A bankruptcy attorney can help you navigate wage garnishments and assist you in trying to get them removed.
What Does Wage Garnishment Mean?
A wage garnishment is exactly what it sounds like – your employer legally needs to start withholding money from your paycheck to pay off your debts.
The court will notify you, your bank, or your employer to alert you to the wage garnishment.
Your employer legally must keep withholding a set amount of money until they are informed that your debt has been resolved.
Why Does it Happen?
Wage garnishment occurs when a creditor sues you for not paying your debts, and the court rules that your wages will be garnished to pay off the money you owe.
In some cases, typically if you owe child support or back taxes, the creditor can garnish your wages without a court order.
Types of Wage Garnishment
There are two main types of wage garnishment. The one you are likely most familiar with is the actual wage garnishment, where your employer withholds part of your paycheck to give to your creditors.
Another type is nonwage garnishment. Also called a bank levy, this allows creditors to take funds from your bank account to pay off creditors.
Options When You Have Wage Garnishment
Fortunately, when you are notified of a wage garnishment, you have options to fight it.
There are key steps you need to take to ensure you are exploring all options promptly, and are following the laws. Because this needs to be done in a precise way, your first step should be to hire a bankruptcy or debt relief lawyer.
A lawyer can help you explore all of your legal options to have the garnishment removed.
After hiring a bankruptcy attorney, you should then take the following actions:
- Read the written notification and judgment. With your attorney, verify that all of the information is correct. It’s possible this could be related to a debt you already paid off and you were sent the judgment in error. Or, it could be related to debt that isn’t even yours!
- if it is correct, then you need to determine how much money will be taken out of your paychecks to go toward your debts.
After these initial steps are taken, it’s then time to dig into your options with your attorney.
Some options your debt relief lawyer might explore include:
- Contact your creditors: Your attorney might want to start by calling the creditor and seeing if you can work out a payment plan on your own, without going through the court or garnishing wages. Worst case, they say no, but it’s worth a shot!
- Challenge the garnishment: If you believe the judgment was made against you in error or is not being properly executed, your attorney can contest the ruling. This must be done in the first few days after receiving the judgment, so it’s crucial to work quickly.
- Pay off the garnishment: The last option is to pay off the judgment as stated through wage garnishment or to pay off the debt in a lump sum. To do this, you may have to borrow money or take out a loan to get the money. While taking out a loan or borrowing money from friends and family might not seem like a great solution, for some, it can be less embarrassing than having your employer notified and your wages garnished.
Contact an Attorney
Do you need an Oklahoma City bankruptcy attorney to help you get rid of a wage garnishment? It’s crucial to hire an experienced attorney to help you determine what you can and cannot do and answer all of your questions so you know what to expect. Don’t let debt ruin your life. Call (405) 529-9377 for a free case review.