What is a Garnishment?
Once a judgment is entered against you, the judgment creditor can apply to garnish either your wages or your bank accounts if the balances are high enough, which depends on the state exemption (or protection) limit.
Garnishments can make a significant impact on your ability to support yourself and your family. The garnishment procedure is easy to start and often difficult to challenge. The amount garnished will include payment for the judgment creditor’s attorneys’ fees and the cost of filing the garnishment.
The law may allow you to avoid the garnishment if you can show your income is below the poverty guidelines, which are included with the garnishment forms. In most states, you can also avoid garnishment if you can prove that you receive need-based public assistance, or if you are eligible for such assistance.
Child support payments take precedence over garnishments.
Our office can easily spot defenses during a consultation and review of the garnishment paperwork, and a recent pay stub. You may still have time to challenge your garnishment. However, there is a strong possibility that your employer and the judgment creditor followed all the rules and you’re stuck with the garnishment.
How Can I Stop Wage Garnishment?
There are four ways to avoid an earnings garnishment:
- change jobs;
- pay your judgment in full;
- seek relief under “Chapter 128” of the Wisconsin Statutes (Wisconsin residents only); and
- file bankruptcy.
Job-hopping is an unwise strategy in a recession, and can cost you far more than what you hope to save by ducking the wage garnishment. Furthermore, some aggressive judgment collectors will find out where your new job is, or focus on your bank accounts instead. All the while, post-interest judgment continues to accrue.
Pay it off?
Your financial circumstances might be favorable enough to pay the underlying judgment of your garnishment, but our office would need to know more about your situation before advising that you borrow money from another source of money to pay the judgment in full.
File a “Wisconsin 128”?
There is a procedure under the Wisconsin Statutes, sometimes referred to as a “Wisconsin 128” or “Chapter 128.” Filing for relief under the state statute also stops the garnishment. This procedure is less expensive, easier to apply for, and allows you to choose which debt you wish to be restructured. However, you must pay off all the debt that you allocate to the plan within three years. The plan can be changed and restarted, as circumstances arise, but the law insists that the debtor doesn’t abuse the system.
Should you file bankruptcy? Bankruptcy stops garnishment proceedings upon filing your case, and with limitation, can return money seized through garnishment back to you. Bankruptcy can also provide effective relief for any other debts you may have. Explore this website to learn more about bankruptcy and dispel some of the myths. For example, you typically won’t lose your house, or your car, or your household belongings. Your overall credit profile can improve in some cases, especially if you avoid incurring debt after you file. You can get rid of most types of debt, including the judgment used to garnish your wages. Contact our office for a low-cost bankruptcy consultation, and get rid of your garnishment for good. “