Possibly the most devastating collection action we frequently see in our office are clients and potential clients that have a wage garnishment active or getting ready to begin. Although exceptions and exemptions apply, most civil wage garnishments can take up to 25% of your paycheck, leaving most people already financially strapped in dire straits. Some garnishments, such as for tax debt or special debt collected by the Commonwealth’s Department of Revenue, can cut even deeper. Stopping these garnishments and/or dealing with the underlying debt is a big focus of our firm.
Many people with which I speak are not aware that a civil summons is the most common method for a creditor to seek a judgment, and with that judgment can garnish your wages. Unfortunately, often times, people wait until it is too late to seek help and explore options. If a garnishment has been ordered, or has already began, bankruptcy can many times be the solution. Once a bankruptcy is filed, the automatic stay (protection from the bankruptcy court) immediately goes into effect, stopping most garnishments immediately. Then, the bankruptcy itself usually deals with and discharges (meaning you are not legally liable to pay) most debts. If in cases where the underlying debt may not be dischargeable, the automatic stay can help temporarily stop the collection, and the discharge of other debts can free up cash flow to make it more affordable overall.
In addition to stopping or preventing a garnishment, it may be possible to recover money that has already been garnished in many cases. Certain rules and exceptions apply, but we have been successful in getting back 100% of funds garnished in the last 90 days prior to filing bankruptcy for many clients. If you or someone you know is being garnished or is facing an upcoming garnishment, call Peace Law today at our Corbin or Somerset offices. We can confidentially discuss your options during a free consultation, and in many cases, stop garnishments before they begin.