Many Southern Californians are just a paycheck or an unexpected bill away from financial hardship. The risk is even higher for those who live in Los Angeles where home prices, rents, cost of goods and services and gasoline prices are more expensive than the rest of the county.
When money is tight, it is easy to fall prey to creditors, who are eager to offer you high-interest credit cards, loans, and mortgages. However, these loans must be paid back, and even the most financially responsive person can find themselves under a mountain of debt—especially after a job loss or illness.
The lender can garnish your wages if you fail to pay back your debt. The creditor can sue you and can get a court order to require your employer to send you hard earned money to the sheriff, who then forwards it to the creditor—this is called a Wage Garnishment.
If you are struggling to repay your debts and are being threatened or having your wages garnished, you have legal options.
Our garnishment attorneys in Los Angeles have represented thousands of clients who have had their wages garnished or who face other serious financial challenges.
We can offer legal advice and help you understand your rights and options, which may include challenging the garnishment in court or filing for bankruptcy. Don’t wait—contact our garnishment lawyers for a free consultation.
Types of Wage Garnishments
Wage garnishment is common in the U.S. and many types of debt can be garnished from your wages.
Wage garnishment can happen when a creditor sues you for nonpayment of a debt and wins in court. This is called a judgment garnishment. Types of debts that can be taken this way include:
- Past-due medical bills
- Credit card debts
- Car loans
- Payday loans
- Unpaid personal loans
In other cases, a creditor can garnish your wages without a court order. This is called an administrative garnishment. Some examples are:
- Federal student loans
- Child support
- Spousal support/alimony
- Unpaid/back taxes
Your Options When Facing Wage Garnishment
If your wages are being garnished, you have several options:
Pay back the debt – Sometimes the best option is to simply repay the debt. If you decide to pay off what you owe instead of fighting it, consider hiring a wage garnishment attorney. An experienced wage garnishment lawyer may be able to negotiate better terms on your behalf.
File an exemption claim – If you can prove that you’re unable to support yourself or your family while your wages are being garnished, you may qualify for a wage garnishment exemption. Depending on your specific situation, an exemption can stop or reduce the amount being garnished.
Consult an attorney – If you have already paid the debt or you didn’t owe it to begin with, you should consult with an attorney. Proving you don’t owe the debt can be complicated, especially since a court or administrative agency already determined that you’re legally liable. It’s your word against theirs. An attorney will help you gather the necessary evidence to make your case.
How Bankruptcy Can End Wage Garnishment
Bankruptcy can protect you and your family by preventing creditors from harassing you and garnishing your wages. Certain types of bankruptcy can also stop repossession, foreclosure, and eviction proceedings. And, if you’re struggling to pay your bills because of wage garnishment, bankruptcy can bring relief by eliminating most of your debt.
Here are the different types of bankruptcy that can protect you and your family’s assets:
Chapter 7 – Under Chapter 7 bankruptcy, creditors must stop garnishments and other collection activities. In most cases, Chapter 7 bankruptcy allows you to keep all of your assets, including your car and house. However, certain types of debt, such as unpaid taxes, child support, and student loans, cannot be eliminated under a Chapter 7 filing. An experienced bankruptcy attorney can help you understand whether Chapter 7 is a good option for your situation.
Chapter 13 – Chapter 13 helps people protect their assets while allowing them to make an affordable monthly payment. Chapter 13 bankruptcy stops wage garnishments and even allows you to get money back that has already been garnished. An experienced bankruptcy attorney can help you understand whether Chapter 13 is a good option for your situation.
Do I Need an Attorney for Help with Wage Garnishment?
An experienced attorney may be able to help you prevent your wages from being garnished or help you find the best solution to regain your financial freedom, such as filing for bankruptcy.
Consider hiring or at least consulting with an attorney if:
- Your employer fired you or is threatening to terminate your employment. State and federal laws provide protections for employees whose wages are being garnished. If your employer is threatening to terminate you to avoid dealing with wage garnishment orders, it’s important to know that in most cases this is against the law. You have rights.
- You don’t actually owe the debt. This can be difficult to prove, whether you’ve already paid the debt, or you never actually owed it. That’s because the court or administrative agency has already determined that you’re legally obligated to pay, and it’s your word against theirs. An attorney for wage garnishment will help you gather supporting evidence and ensure the proper procedures are followed.
- The creditor is taking too much. In California, the creditor can take up to 25% of your wages or the amount by which your income exceeds 30 times the federal minimum hourly wage—whichever is less. If a creditor is taking more than this, contact a lawyer to help with garnishment.
These are just a few of the situations that warrant at least consulting with an attorney. Your first consultation is free, so it’s worth making the call.
Credit Card Relief Questions
If you have home equity, one option is to sell your house before the bank forecloses on it. Other options include reinstating your mortgage by paying all past due payments, applying for loan modification, mortgage forbearance, or filing for bankruptcy. Our experienced foreclosure attorney will counsel you on all your options, including filing forChapter 13 bankruptcy.
Even if you lose your home to foreclosure, you are entitled to excess funds if the house sold for more than what you owed on the house, minus fees and cost.
If your home is sold for less than what you owe, you may be liable for the remaining amount. An experienced attorney can help you avoid collection actions or defend you in court.
Missing even one mortgage payment can ding your credit score. A foreclosure can seriously harm your credit score. If you’re concerned about this, a short sale (selling your home for less than what you owe to avoid foreclosure) can help you avoid a major blow to your credit score. Our experienced attorneys can help you determine if a short sale is a good option in your case.
Why Choose The Law Offices of Kevin T. Simon, APC?
Our attorney has successfully represented thousands of clients in Southern California dealing with wage garnishment and other financial issues.
We are experts in Chapter 7 and 13 bankruptcy, offering both bankruptcy and non-bankruptcy solutions. Our mission is to help individuals ﬁnd debt relief solutions that help them get a fresh start.
Our team offers big-ﬁrm expertise at affordable legal fees. Get in touch with our wage garnishment lawyer in Woodland Hills for a free consultation today.