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Eliminating Wage Garnishments Through Bankruptcy

A garnishment is a method used by creditors to recoup money they are owed from a debtor’s bank account or wages. A creditor can seek an order from a court requesting that a certain amount of money be withheld from a paycheck and then sent directly to the creditor. Most creditors must obtain this judgment prior to the wage garnishment process beginning. The exception to this includes unpaid income taxes, child support obligations and defaulted student loans. With those types of obligations the creditor can avoid court and obtain what is commonly referred to as an administrative garnishment. Each state has different guidelines as to how much income is subject to being garnished. In Georgia the maximum amount that employers can withhold is the lessor of 25% of disposable earnings or the amount by which weekly disposable earnings exceed 30 times the federal minimum wage. The term "disposable income" refers to legally required deductions such as federal taxes, state and local taxes, unemployment insurance, social security deductions and state retirement systems. Deductions considered non-legally required are health insurance, life insurance and charitable contributions. Many clients are left with very little to cover expenses such as mortgage, car note and other essential obligations not considered legally required after the garnishment has begun.

Wage garnishments are not always final and can be stopped. When a bankruptcy lawyer files notice of a chapter 7 or chapter 13 bankruptcy there are protections that immediately kick in to stop the money from being taken out of the bank accounts or pay checks. An automatic stay is the first step in this process of halting the garnishment. The stay goes into effect immediately upon filing a chapter 7 or chapter 13 bankruptcy and prohibits creditors from continuing with collection activities. Automatic stays can be useful in preventing utility disconnections such as water, electricity, gas or telephone, stopping a foreclosure, and wage garnishments.

Douglas County Bankruptcy Lawyers have advised hundreds of clients through the chapter 7 and chapter 13 bankruptcy process. We can evaluate your specific case, stop the garnishments from your paycheck, and in some cases, put money back in your wallet.

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