How to Stop Wage Garnishments
A writ of garnishment is when part of your wages are withheld and sent to your creditors. It can only occur after a court order following a judgment against you. If your employer receives a writ, there are stiff legal penalties for his failure to comply, so you won’t be able to stop the writ via your employer. There are, however, many things you can do to both prevent wage garnishment and to stop garnishment once it has started:
How to stop wage garnishments from happening in the first place
- Avoid being sued in the first place. Great advice, but the fact is, if you’re reading this article, you’re likely to have been served a notice that you are facing garnishment (not to mention the underhand tactics lawyers use–see An Unfair Debt Collection).
- If the garnishment is from the IRS, call them. If your wages are going to be garnished by the IRS (i.e. you’ve received an Intent to Levy or Notice of Levy letter, you must contact the IRS to set up a payment plan. Once they start garnishing your wages, you lose bargaining power. Make an appointment to see an IRS agent and ask for a reasonable payment plan.
- Don’t give your creditors your correct employment information. Ever. Write “self-employed” or give a misspelling of your employer’s name and a wrong address. Your creditors want that information from you for one reason only–to get your money if you default on the agreement.
- File for bankruptcy. Bankruptcy can, for some, be the best option. Losing 25% of your wages to garnishment can put a heavy burden on you for years, not to mention that your credit report will suffer just as badly as if you had filed bankruptcy. It’s worth a free consultation with a bankruptcy lawyer to figure out your options.
- File a “Claim of Exemption” form with the court, if your wages are being garnished and you cannot afford basic necessities like housing, food, and heat. Obtain the form from your local courthouse, fill it in, and file. You’ll receive a hearing notice. Show up with proof of incomes and expenses.
- Claim “Head of Household” if you support children and/or a spouse. This only applies in some states (like Florida). When you receive a writ, file a notice with the court that you are claiming a head of household exemption. This does not have to be an official form–just write a letter, take it to the courthouse, and ask the Clerk of Courts to put it in your file. You may have to attend a hearing to prove that you are entitled to this exemption.
- Seek help from a Debt Settlement firm. Skillful selection of the right debt reduction company can cut your debt by half and stop garnishment. It’s likely that your garnishment is costing you hundreds of dollars a week, and the garnishments will continue until you’ve paid back every penny. With debt reduction, the garnishments will stop and you’ll have to pay back less money.
- File for bankruptcy. Filing will put an immediate halt to the writ of garnishment in most cases. A bankruptcy lawyer will be able to tell you if bankruptcy will stop your garnishments.
- Pay the debt in full. Yes, probably not likely (you are reading this because you can’t pay, or–like me–you don’t want to pay). But that’s one of the ways to stop garnishment.
How to Stop a Wage Garnishment in Process