Wage garnishment is a legal action that is taken in certain situations when a debtor has failed to repay or make any payments toward an owed sum. Typical situations that result in wage garnishment are unpaid child support, court fines or taxes. However, nearly any delinquent debt may qualify for wage garnishment if a court finds the case worthy of such action. If you are faced with wage garnishment, you have a few options to stop this harsh penalty.
Pay Your Debts
This may seem like an obvious answer, but paying the debt within 10 days of the court order to garnish your wages will nullify that legal proceeding. This is an option for those that may have been unaware of a debt. Before a debt results in a wage garnishment, there are a series of steps that must be taken to notify and attempt collection. If you have an outstanding debt that you fear may result in wage garnishment, then you must call your creditor’s customer service. By explaining the extenuating circumstance that has resulted in your lapse and inability to make payments, many creditors will offer a resolution payment plan option or a grace period.
Appeal to the Court
Once you receive a notice of wage garnishment, you may wish to appeal the order with the court that issued it. In order to enact a wage garnishment, the collector had to prove to the court that their claim was a valid debt. This means that only in the rarest of mistakes will you be likely to convince the court that this is a false debt. When you appeal, you are actually appealing the amount of the garnishment and not the existence of it. If the garnishment causes you hardship by impeding your ability to provide for your family’s basic needs, then the court may take action to reduce the garnishment. To successfully accomplish this, you will need to show documented accounting of your income and your liabilities to undoubtedly prove the hardship.
Seek Legal Counsel
There are lawyers that specialize in wage garnishment law. If you are unable to pay a debt or appeal, then consulting with a lawyer may be your best option for negotiating a reduction. In some cases, a lawyer may advise you to declare bankruptcy. This legal action will immediately stop all wage garnishment and collection actions once it is enacted, but bankruptcy has long-term consequences to your credit and can prevent you from entering into future contracts such as mortgages and loans.
Wage garnishment is a serious legal action that cannot be avoided or ignored once it has begun. Take action in your case early while there are still a variety of options open to you.