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Was your paycheck less than you expected due to a garnishment?

Like many others here in California, you may struggle with your finances. You feel as though no matter how hard you work or how many corners of your budget you cut, you just can't get ahead. Then you get your paycheck and realize that it's not what you expected.

That's when you remember that one of your creditors told your employer to garnish your wages. Your creditor received a judgment against you for the debt you owed, but you never expected it to take the money out of your pay. Now you wonder what to do since you have even fewer dollars to stretch until the next pay period.

Do I have any rights regarding the garnishment?

Since garnishment falls under a method of debt collection, the Consumer Credit Protection Act does provide you with certain rights. First, creditors can only remove a certain percentage of your disposable income from your paycheck. This means that no matter how many creditors want to issue garnishments against your wages, they can't take more than a certain percentage. 

In addition, your employer can't terminate you based on a garnishment for one debt. However, your employer can terminate you if he or she chooses for garnishments to two or more creditors.

You may have the ability to attend a hearing regarding the garnishment. If the evidence is in your favor, the court may reconsider the garnishment. An attorney could help you prepare for such a hearing and advise you regarding the best evidence to take to it.

There is another way

The automatic stay instituted during a bankruptcy could stop a wage garnishment, at least temporarily depending on the debt. This would give you back your full paycheck while you figure out how to proceed financially. Many people whose wages are garnished have other financial issues as well. If you are one of them, you may eliminate the debt for which a creditor garnished your wages.

If the debt associated with the garnishment isn't ordinarily subject to discharge (such as child support or tax obligations), you may at least gain financial relief from other debts so that you can pay the one garnishing your wages.

You may have options that you haven't yet considered when it comes to paying your debts and stopping a wage garnishment. It may benefit you greatly to discuss your financial situation with a bankruptcy attorney who can assess your situation and provide you with options that could get you back on your financial feet -- possibly with a full paycheck again.

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