Wage garnishment is a common problem for many Americans. It can be deflating to have your wages garnished. But you do have options to protect yourself.

Wage garnishment happens when a court issues an order requiring your employer to withhold a portion of your paycheck and to send it directly to a creditor that you owe. In general, your paycheck continues to be garnished until the debt is paid off in full or otherwise resolved.

A wage garnishment usually happens when a creditor sues you for an unpaid debt and wins in court. If you were served with a lawsuit and did not respond to the lawsuit within the required 20 days of being served, the creditor can get a default judgment against you. After obtaining a default judgement, the creditor can issue a wage garnishment to your employer. Sometimes, a garnishment can be issued without a court order if the debt is back child support, back taxes, or unpaid federal student loans.

It is easier to prevent the wage garnishment from happening in the first place then stopping it when it has already started. If you were served with a lawsuit, it’s important to respond to the lawsuit within the 20 days so the creditor is unable to immediately obtain a default judgment. Please note that once a wage garnishment has been issued, your employer is required to comply and the garnishment will run its course, which is usually for 60 days.

If repaying the debt in full is not an option, there are other ways you can try to stop the wage garnishment:

Negotiate with the creditor: Contact the creditor and ask them to get on a payment plan. While some creditors are hesitant to offer a lower payment plan then what they are getting from the garnishment, this still can be successful.

Stop the garnishment and get a fresh start: If you are buried in debt and are unable to pay the debt and other debt, filing bankruptcy is another option. Some people may be hesitant to file bankruptcy due to its stigma, but filing bankruptcy can stop the wage garnishment immediately after you file and also offer debt relief to give you the fresh start you need. In Chapter 7 bankruptcy, if the debt is one that qualifies to be discharged, then the garnishment will be terminated forever. In Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you’ll repay a portion of your creditors through a monthly repayment plan.

If you are facing a wage garnishment and need assistance, please call all our office today at (206) 408-8158. We offer a free consultation where we would sit down with you and assess your situation and be able to provide the best options for you to stop the wage garnishment.

We are pleased to announce that Darcel Lobo, the owner and attorney at DAL Law Firm, has created Your Planning Coach, a financial coaching business to help people after their bankruptcy discharge. If you’d like help getting started with planning your finances after bankruptcy, here is a great guide you can use: Budget After Bankruptcy Guide.