Dealing with significant debt is difficult enough on its own, but when a portion of your paycheck is being withheld to pay back the debts you owe to one or more creditors, you can end up even more strapped for cash, and it may make getting yourself out of financial trouble seem more impossible than ever. If you owe more than you can pay and your creditors are attempting to get their money from you by garnishing your wages, you have legal options that can help you protect your income and take charge of your debt once and for all. If your wages are being garnished because of unpaid debts, don’t hesitate to take action and put a stop to the wage garnishment, harassing collection calls from creditors and other debt collection actions being taken against you. Contact our Los Angeles wage garnishment attorneys at Resnik Hayes Moradi LLP today to find out how we can help you get out from under your overwhelming debt. The sooner you retain our legal services, the sooner we can put our bankruptcy and debt-relief expertise to work for you.
Knowledgeable Wage Garnishment Attorneys
If you are struggling to pay your bills and meet other financial obligations, a wage garnishment can make it even more difficult to pay back the money you owe and achieve freedom from debt. Unfortunately, wage garnishment is a common tactic used by creditors to collect on unpaid debts. Our knowledgeable attorneys at Resnik Hayes Moradi LLP can provide you with the legal help you need after your wages have been garnished, but you can put yourself in an even better position if you are able to contact our firm before your situation progresses to wage garnishment. You will likely receive several warnings before your wages start being garnished and we recommend that you consult a skilled wage garnishment attorney at the first sign of trouble, so you can get ahead of the problem and stop wage garnishment before it begins. By contacting our skilled Los Angeles wage garnishment attorneys at Resnik Hayes Moradi LLP, you can stop your wages from being garnished, protect your income, save your credit and get your financial situation back to where you want it to be.
What is Wage Garnishment?
Wage garnishment is a legal process by which an unpaid lender can obtain a court order requiring your employer to withhold a certain amount of money from your paycheck and send the money directly to the lender, until your debt is paid in full. This process can occur if you owe money due to a personal loan, payday loan, credit card or medical bill and you don’t pay the debt back on time. If your wages are being garnished because of unpaid debt, you could have a large portion of your income automatically deducted from your paycheck, which can make a tenuous financial situation even more difficult and stressful.
In most cases, your wages can only be garnished in Los Angeles after a creditor has filed a debt collection lawsuit against you and the court has issued a judgment on the lawsuit. However, if your wages are being garnished because of unpaid income taxes, student loans on which you have defaulted, or court-ordered child support, a court judgment is not necessary. According to federal law, which is controlling in California, only the lesser of the following two options can be withheld from your garnished paychecks:
- Up to 25% of your disposable income, or
- The amount by which your wages exceed 30 times the federal minimum wage.
If more than one creditor is garnishing your wages, the total amount garnished must equal 25% of your disposable income or less, except in the case of spousal support or child support. Whatever the extent of your debt, having your wages garnished can be devastating, especially if you are already living paycheck to paycheck and struggling to keep up with your bills and your family’s financial needs.
What to do if Your Wages are Being Garnished
There are certain steps you can take to protect your income if your wages are being garnished in Los Angeles, or if your employer has been served with a wage garnishment order from a creditor. In order to overcome your difficulties and regain your financial stability, you could:
- Call the creditor. In some cases, you may be able to call the creditor directly and try to work out an equitable agreement to repay the money you owe. If you and the creditor can arrange a payment plan, you may be able to pay the creditor back over an agreed-upon period of time and prevent your wages from being garnished. However, this is rarely successful. Not very often are creditors who have already obtained a wage garnishment order open to setting up a payment plan.
- File an exemption. If you can show that the money being garnished from your paycheck is essential to your ability to support yourself and your family, you may be able to put a stop to the garnishment or reduce the amount that is being garnished.
- File for bankruptcy. Filing for bankruptcy is one surefire way you can put an immediate stop to wage garnishment in Los Angeles. Once your bankruptcy case is filed, your employer will be issued a release that stops the garnishment from continuing.
- Fight the judgment. Another possible option for stopping wage garnishment is vacating the judgment entered against you by the court. If, for example, you can show that you did not receive actual notice in time to defend the debt collection lawsuit, you may be able to vacate the default judgment and at least temporarily stop the garnishment of your wages.
How Can Bankruptcy Help?
If your wages are being garnished, you may also be falling behind on your mortgage, rent or car payments and you may be struggling to support your family and make ends meet, and we are here to tell you that obtaining real relief from debt is possible. You don’t have to settle for struggling with overwhelming debt for the rest of your life; you can take action to take control of your debt and protect your income, and one option for getting out from under debilitating debt is to file for bankruptcy. Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy are two of the most common types of bankruptcy filings in Los Angeles, and while many people think of bankruptcy as a last resort, it is often a better alternative to wage garnishment.
Chapter 7 bankruptcy, or “liquidation” bankruptcy, offers debtors who cannot afford to repay their debts a fresh financial start by discharging, or eliminating, all or a portion of their debt, with the exception of certain nondischargeable debts like student loans, child support, criminal fines, certain tax debts and alimony. Chapter 13 bankruptcy gives debtors who have fallen behind on payments the opportunity to develop a plan to repay their debt over the course of three to five years, depending on their income. Not everyone is eligible for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, so it is always a good idea to contact an experienced bankruptcy attorney to discuss how filing for bankruptcy would work in your specific situation.
The Automatic Stay
As soon as you file a petition for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Los Angeles, the “automatic stay” goes into effect, which puts an immediate stop to most wage garnishment, calls from creditors and debt collection lawsuits, as well as eviction, foreclosure and repossession proceedings. This automatic stay can bring instant relief and give you the breathing room you need to get your finances in order and either arrange to have your debts discharged (Chapter 7) or develop a repayment plan to pay back your creditors over the course of three to five years (Chapter 13). When you file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Los Angeles, the wage garnishment is terminated and the debt you owe to the creditor is handled through your Chapter 7 bankruptcy discharge or Chapter 13 bankruptcy repayment plan. If you receive a discharge under Chapter 7, any wage garnishment for unpaid medical bills, credit card debt or any other unsecured debts that were included in the discharge will also be eliminated. You may also be able to recover any wages that were garnished within the 90 days prior to your bankruptcy filing if the wages total over $600 and you have enough exemptions to cover them, a request you can include in a complaint filed with your bankruptcy paperwork. Keep in mind that domestic support obligations are not affected by bankruptcy, so garnishments for alimony or child support will remain in effect even after you file for bankruptcy.
What Will Filing for Bankruptcy Mean for Me?
There are certain trade-offs to filing Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy and it is important to be aware of the pros and cons of bankruptcy so you can make an educated decision about your debt and your financial future. For instance, a Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing will remain on your credit report for up to ten years, which could adversely impact your credit rating and temporarily affect your ability to obtain credit. That being said, when wage garnishment or other damaging collection actions are being taken against you, filing for bankruptcy is a good alternative to simply continuing to struggle with debilitating debt. By discharging your debt or creating a manageable debt repayment plan that you can afford to pay, you can begin rebuilding your credit sooner and finally take steps towards financial independence. Additionally, there is a social stigma associated with bankruptcy that prevents many people from pursuing this avenue of debt relief, out of fear of being judged or viewed in a negative light by others. If you are worried about how bankruptcy will affect your standing in the community or your reputation among friends and family members, consider how much pressure your mounting debt has put you under and how much of this pressure can be relieved with a bankruptcy filing.
Why Hire an Attorney?
Dealing with wage garnishment issues can be stressful, time-consuming and confusing, especially if you aren’t familiar with California bankruptcy laws and how they apply to your case. If your wages are being garnished by one of your creditors, there are steps you can take to put a stop to the garnishment and begin receiving your full wages again. If you decide to file for bankruptcy, the wage garnishment should stop immediately, and if the unpaid debt that led to your wages being garnished is dischargeable in bankruptcy, you could have the debt erased completely by the bankruptcy court. Whether you decide to file for bankruptcy, file an exemption, fight the judgment or take other action to stop the wage garnishment, having a reputable attorney in your corner who is familiar with the bankruptcy code and bankruptcy court procedures can significantly improve your chances of achieving a favorable outcome in your case. Our seasoned bankruptcy lawyers at Resnik Hayes Moradi LLP have more than 50 years of collective legal experience and our reputation for knowledgeable legal representation is backed by thousands of satisfied clients in the Los Angeles, San Fernando Valley, San Bernardino, Riverside, and Orange County communities and throughout Southern California. Contact our law firm today for a free initial bankruptcy consultation.
Contact Our Wage Garnishment Attorneys for Help
When you are already struggling with mounting debt, losing 25% of your income to wage garnishment can cripple your finances and put you even further in debt with what seems like no way out. If your wages are being garnished in Los Angeles or the surrounding area, or if you have received a notice that your wages will be garnished due to unpaid debts, there are a number of options available to you, including a bankruptcy filing, which can help you obtain real debt relief. At Resnick Hayes Moradi LLP, our trusted bankruptcy attorneys have represented thousands of clients in bankruptcy cases in Los Angeles and throughout Southern California and have successfully put a stop to wage garnishment and other harassing creditor collection efforts. With our team of knowledgeable bankruptcy lawyers on your side, you can put an end to creditor harassment and work your way towards financial freedom. Contact our Los Angeles bankruptcy attorneys as soon as possible to find out how we can help.