Stopping Wage Garnishment

Often times when a debt goes unpaid the original creditor Past _due _imgwill hire a collection
to file suit against you. If successful, this suit will
result in a judgment and then, likely garnishment. 
Garnishment is a means of involuntarily collecting money owed on a
debt after obtaining a judgment against the debtor.  The most
common type of garnishment is wage garnishment, where the collector
deducts money from your salary by court order.  A wage
garnishment will cause 25% of your paycheck to be deducted unless
state law creates exemptions allowing less to be taken.  It
usually continues as long as the consumer is employed and the debt
is unpaid.   The second most common is a seizing of
assets in a checking or savings account.

often occur when a debtor least expects it and often times when the
debtor received no notice until the money has already been
taken.  While a garnishment cannot usually be stopped, if the
collector has not followed the letter of the law, there may be

The first step to take in determining whether a garnishment is
proper is to make sure the collector filed suit and properly
obtained a judgment against you.  Often times, consumers state
they had no idea a lawsuit was ever filed.  A common
occurrence in the area of collections is where a collector files a
lawsuit, but fails to properly serve the debtor so he is unable to
represent himself in court.   When a lawsuit is filed,
the Plaintiff must serve the lawsuit and a summons upon the
debtor.  Often times, the summons is served at a wrong
address.  Then the collector will appear in court and obtain a
default judgment against you for your failure to appear.  Make
sure you have a real judgment against you by contacting the local
courthouse and then make sure you were properly served.  
You are entitled to review the entire court file as it is a matter
of public record. 

If the debt does not belong to you, a court of law is your
opportunity to explain yourself.  On the contrary, if the debt
is yours, court is a great place to open the dialogue for
negotiation.  You can discuss a payment plan or lump sum
payment as a settlement in lieu of garnishment where they take a
specified amount of your paycheck.  If you were not served and
had no notice of the lawsuit prior to the garnishment, you must
file a motion to vacate the judgment for failure to properly serve
you with notice of the lawsuit. 
In the event the garnishment is valid, the collector is not
entitled to your entire paycheck.  The amount allowed to be
taken is determined by your state and there are certain exemptions
including the receipt of public assistance.  If you qualify
for an exemption, you must put the collector on notice by
completing a formal exemption notice and filing it with the
court.  If you are not fully exempt, do not forget there are
still limits to what can be taken from your paycheck.  Check
your state law to determine the permissible amount of money a
collector may withdraw. 

Filing for bankruptcy is another way to stop a
garnishment.  Filing for either Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy
will effectively cease any wage garnishment and force the collector
to refund any money that was garnished within 90 days preceding the
filing.  To make sure filing bankruptcy is the right option
for you, make sure to consult a bankruptcy attorney. 

SmithMarco has been protecting
consumer rights since 2005.  If you feel you have been
improperly garnished or your rights have been violated under the
Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
contact us for a free case