Wage Garnishment – I Found My Wages Garnished

Wage garnishment in California is a shocking and traumatic event. All of a sudden, 25% of your income is attached and you never see it (up to 50% in some custody claim cases). And it all starts when a creditor has filed a Earnings Withholding Order to collect on a debt and garnish wage. You find your wage garnished. Suddenly, someone who was just barely getting by, treading water, is now missing one-fourth of their take-home pay.

When Can Wages Be Garnished

You may ask, “when can someone garnish my wages?” It can’t happen without due process and warning. Wages are garnished when you owe someone money on a debt. But anyone can say anyone owes money. Can they go and wage a check?  Owing the money isn’t enough. They have to take you to court with a lawsuit. The law suit has to go all the way through. You have to lose, officially. That’s when a judge has an order against you to pay. That’s typically called a judgment. Only when that happens can they garnish your wages.

What to Expect from a Wage Garnishment

wage garnishment wage garnished
Chunk of Check

The concept of a wage garnishment is simple: You owed someone money. They took you to court (yes, it’s possible you didn’t get actual notice of the lawsuit, or receive any summons). They won. Now you can find your wage garnished. Why? You owed them money. “I can’t afford to pay it back” isn’t a defense, and wouldn’t have worked even if you showed up. Now that they won a judgment, they’re collecting on that judgement. One way to collect on a judgment is to garnish wages. So they found out where you work, and have the local sheriff, marshal or other authorities tell your payroll department to take money from your pay check.

Stopping a Wage Garnishment

You have very little time to act before your paycheck gets deductions from it. There are a couple of things someone who has had their wages garnished can do, none of them perfect.

Option if you want to avoid bankruptcy

Firstly, one can file a Claim of Exemption form. This is not an easy way to go, and you’ll probably want an attorney to assist you. The standard is fairly high, but from time to time, these allow you to decrease the amount they withhold.

Pay the Judgment if you find your Wage Garnished

Secondly, you can pay the judgment. All they want is money, and a lump sum payment will save your paycheck. But that’s the problem: the creditor who filed and won the lawsuit wants their money all at once, right now.

File Bankruptcy for Stopping a Wage Garnishment

One other thing you can do is hire a Los Angeles bankruptcy attorney to file bankruptcy on your behalf. It helps to have an experienced bankruptcy attorney who can answer “do I qualify for Chapter 7” or not. Immediately, the creditor whose debt is being paid by the wage garnishment will be put on notice and have to stop this garnish wage and attempt to collect on a debt. There are many types of bankruptcies, and filing isn’t easy. You may want to sit down and meet with a Los Angeles bankruptcy lawyer to stop the wage garnishment in California.

But hurry. Every moment you delay is risking another paycheck that gets shorted, funds going to “them” which you can be using for groceries and food. You cannot afford to lose 25% of your pay check. Stop the wage garnishment now.