What You Need to Know About Wage Garnishment

Falling into debt is an extremely easy thing to do. Unforeseen circumstances, like job loss, an inhospitable job market, costly emergencies, and medical bills happen, but there is no way to stop them from affecting your financial situation. In fact, bankruptcies resulting from unpaid medical bills affected an estimated 2 million people in the U.S. in 2013.

Normally, debt collectors and debt collection agencies will barrage you with calls, letters, and even personal visits. If these measures don’t work, and they aren’t receiving their payments, your creditors can use a tool called wage garnishment. The creditor can send a garnishment order to your employer, who can withhold a portion of your earnings and send that portion direction to your creditor.

Not just any creditor can garnish your wages — usually, only judgement creditors can do so. That means if you owe money to a credit card company or doctor, you won’t have to worry about wage garnishment unless those creditors take you to court.

Judgement creditors, who can garnish your wages without a court order include federally-guaranteed student loan collectors, people to whom you owe child support or alimony, and taxing agencies, like the IRS or state taxing authority. These agencies still have to provide you with ample notices that your wages will be garnished.

Federal laws are limit the amount of money that can be garnished from your paycheck. And, in all cases of wage garnishment, you can object to the act itself or the amount of money being garnished by filing a Claim of Exemption at the court that issued the garnishment. Your employer cannot fire you because it receives a garnishment for one debt.

If your debt situation has gotten so bad that it has come to wage garnishment, most likely you should consider some sort of major life change or restructure your debt through bankruptcy help. Consulting a bankruptcy attorney to get help filing bankruptcy and see if this is the right choice for you can help you make and become more comfortable with a decision. There were an estimated 1,071,932 bankruptcy filings in the United States during 2013, all of which helped people think about their debt differently and repay it.

A Chapter 7 bankruptcy case takes about six months to complete, but that is nothing compared with years of having your hard earned wages garnished. Look for help filing bankruptcy, and take your life back.