There is a well-defined legal step-by-step process for going from being creditworthy to being the target of a wage garnishment. Most creditors have already exhausted all other methods for receiving debt payments from you before they start garnishing your wages. Here is how to stop your wages from being garnished.
“Garnishment Requires Court Judgment”
As you fall behind in monthly payments, the financial institutions will try to contact you concerning your debt. They might give you a “courtesy call.” They hope to learn more about you while also fulfilling the legal requirement of notifying you of your debt. They might encourage you to set up a payment plan or make a lump payment to show that you are serious about fulfilling your debt repayment duties.
If all of these actions fail, they will take the final action of filing a lawsuit against you to force involuntary repayment. The creditor must sue you and win by convincing a judge that the wage garnishment (or wage attachment) is necessary. Powerful creditors, like the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), don’t even need a court judgment to start wage garnishments.
“How to Contest a Wage Garnishment”
If you believe that a wage garnishment was unfair, you can file an objection to it through the courts. You should file a “Claim for Exemption” that will protect a portion of your income from the garnishment. Each state sets its own limits for how much can be garnished from your income. You can argue you need more money for the basics of food, clothing and housing.
You can completely pay off the debt. Most creditors prefer one lump sum payment rather than the periodic, unstable wage garnishments. Once you repay all the debt, the bank has no claim against you.
Settling your debt is another option. Typically, your creditor will try to find a mutually acceptable agreement before turning to wage garnishment. You might not want the lender to have access to your paycheck. If you establish a new contract with the creditor, this can end the garnishment.
Finally, you can file for bankruptcy. This is the most extreme case when you simply can’t afford the garnishment any longer. The court will ensure you have a certain amount of your income dedicated to your bare necessities. The “Automatic Stay of Bankruptcy” will immediately end all garnishments and eliminate a portion, if not all of the underlying debt.