After a creditor has obtained a judgment, the creditor may seek an order allowing garnishment of the debtor’s wages. If approved, this remedy generally allows a creditor to take up to 25 percent of the debtor’s disposable weekly earnings, which consist of gross pay after taxes, social security, state unemployment insurance, and employee retirement contributions.
Most people find it exceedingly difficult to meet their monthly obligations while being subject to a creditor’s wage garnishment. One way of obtaining relief from wage garnishments in Georgia is filing for bankruptcy. This results in an automatic stay going into effect, preventing most creditors from taking any actions to collect a debt. If a creditor takes illegal action to collect a debt in violation of the automatic-stay, they run the risk of being fined and may be ordered to pay additional damages. Note: The automatic stay also protects debtors from eviction, having their utilities cut off, and foreclosure of their home.
Depending on whether you file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the relief granted by the stay may only be temporary. What’s more, not all garnishments can be stopped. For example, in a Chapter 7, domestic support obligations such as child support and spousal support are not subject to the automatic stay. In a Chapter 13 case garnishments for ongoing domestic support obligations will continue and because Chapter 13 is a reorganization of debt, you will need to pay any arrearage within the length of the plan (3-5 years).
There are other situations where the automatic-stay provision will not be especially helpful to a debtor. For one thing, creditors may attempt to have the court lift the automatic stay. Additionally, if you have filed for bankruptcy within the previous year, the automatic stay will only last for 30 days (unless extended by court order), and if you have filed for bankruptcy two or more times in the past one year, there is no automatic stay at all until the court imposes it.
If you are considering filing for bankruptcy in Georgia, contact Jeff Field, a compassionate and experienced Georgia bankruptcy lawyer who has dedicated his career to helping his clients put their financial worries behind them and move on with a fresh start. Our main office is located in Scottdale and we also have offices in Gainesville, Marietta, Athens, Lawrenceville and Douglasville. To learn how we can help you with your situation, call Jeff Field & Associates at 404-381-1278 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation today.
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