Wage garnishment is a legal procedure in which the courts can require your employer to withhold a certain percentage of your wages until your debts (such as child support or court-ordered fines) are paid. Thanks to Title III of the Consumer Credit Protection Act (CCPA), your employer cannot fire you for being subject to a single garnishment, but you can be fired if garnishments start to stack up. So, if you’re anything like your employer, you probably just want it to stop.
Pay Your Debts
It’s simple really. If you pay your debts and do not miss payments, your wages won’t be garnished. No debt. No worries.
If you’re too far gone and you’ve already received your garnishment notice, you can still pay your debt. Immediately (which means within the first 10 days of the court order) paying it off will nullify the order and you will be able to continue on with your life garnishment-free.
Get a Loan
Sometimes the best and fastest way to pay off the debt is to borrow just a little bit more. It might sound crazy at first, but a low-interest loan could enable you to pay that high-interest debt, thereby eradicating the garnishment and lowering your monthly payment. If you think this is the option for you, look into debt consolidation programs.
Negotiate a Payment Plan
Like your mom always told you, ignoring the problem will not make it go away.
Running from your payments will get you garnished like a Thanksgiving ham. So don’t run. Turn and face your debt collector head-on and work out a reasonable payment plan. If you do this early enough, you could avoid being sued altogether.
Fact Check Frenzy
It is important to know your rights. If there are errors in the court’s paperwork (such as an incorrect address) the entire order could be thrown out. The federal government caps garnishments at 25%, or any amount exceeding 30 times the federal minimum wage of your disposable (post-tax) income. However, if you have outstanding child support payments, your disposable income could be garnished by up to 65% in special cases. Regulations differ from state to state, so do your research. It is in your best interest to have a lawyer in your corner.
Appeal Your Case
That lawyer could come in handy here too. Wage garnishments are a court order; therefore, you can appeal the ruling. You have a right to your basic living needs, so collect your monthly income and expenses documentation such as your mortgage or rent, food, and heath care and make your case to the judge. Even if the court doesn’t stop the garnishment, it may decrease the withholdings percentage.
If you’ve tried everything else and cannot make it any longer, declare bankruptcy. This should be a last resort because declaring bankruptcy affects your credit for years. However, wage garnishments (along with any other form of collection) will stop immediately after you file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.