If you have been struggling to pay your bills, you’ve probably heard a lot of threats from creditors, including legal action. You might be tempted to shrug that off, thinking, “Even if they get a judgment, how can they collect?” That’s where wage garnishment comes in. It is a court order instructing your employer to send a percentage of your paycheck directly to designated creditors. You no longer have a say in the matter. You can’t prioritize other bills ahead of that one. But not only do you lose control of a portion of your wages, you also lose your privacy. Suddenly your employer knows you’re heavily in debt and could decide you’re untrustworthy. Federal law protects you from being fired for one garnishment, but employers may find ways around that rule. What’s the answer to this dilemma? At Jeff Field & Associates, our experienced Georgia bankruptcy attorneys can help you stop wage garnishment before it happens.
There are different wage garnishment rules depending on the type of debt. For consumer credit, such as credit cards and medical bills, federal law limits the amount a judgment creditor can receive to the lesser of:
However, other sources of debt do not require court orders for garnishment, and the levels allowed are higher:
If multiple creditors garnish your wages, the total cannot exceed the legal limit for one creditor. Under Georgia law, wage garnishments can be a lump-sum deduction or can be continuous. An order for continuous garnishment can last 180 days but may be renewed if the debt remains unpaid.
Living under wage garnishment can severely hamper your efforts to get out of debt. Fortunately, bankruptcy can stop wage garnishment even before it starts. When you file for bankruptcy, the court issues an automatic stay, a court order that prohibits creditors from taking any actions to collect on your debts. With a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you might be able to discharge that debt entirely to get a fresh start. But even with a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you may not have to repay the full amount you would have lost through garnishment. You work out a repayment plan based on your disposable income, and once you complete the plan successfully, you can earn a discharge of your remaining eligible debt.
Are you a good candidate for Chapter 7? Or for Chapter 13? Let our experienced bankruptcy attorneys evaluate your finances and advise you on your options. If we conclude bankruptcy is your best option, we can guide your through the steps to file for bankruptcy and stay by your side until the process reaches a successful conclusion.
Jeff Field & Associates helps clients throughout Georgia overcome crushing debt through bankruptcy. To schedule an appointment, call 404-381-1278 or contact us online. We have offices in Scottdale, Gainesville, Marietta, Lawrenceville, Douglasville and Athens.
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