Wages garnished are used to repay debts.

Wage garnishment is a judgment by the court making it mandatory that a portion of your income be applied to your debt balance. More than 90% of people who are sued by creditors simply do nothing. Of course, this is probably the worst thing you can do when faced with a judgement. Often this results in wages garnished, and little recourse for the consumer.

Before going any further, let’s discuss what a garnishment judgment is. You have a while, usually 20-30 days depending on your jurisdiction, after you are served with a lawsuit to respond. If you still don’t submit an answer to the lawsuit, the court can enter a default judgment giving the debt buyer everything they are asking for.

You didn’t respond, or appear to defend yourself so you have no way of winning. If you haven’t responded or appeared, the creditor wins the case by default. Once this happens, they can legally garnish your wages and pursue additional legal action.

It goes without saying that you should respond promptly and accurately.

How much of your wages can be garnished?

The extent of wage garnishment depends upon the disposable income. A garnishment is determined based on income and disposable income. There are limits to these garnishments, of course. The limits vary state by state and are affected by the type of loan being collected.

In general, either 25% or the amount by which your weekly income exceeds 30 times the federal minimum wage which is currently $7.25 an hour. Whichever of these figures is less is garnished from your paycheck. This garnishment goes directly to the creditor who’s placed it, which could represent credit card and medical bills, personal loans and most other consumer debts.

For example,

  • If the weekly disposable income is $290 or more, 25% is collected towards wage garnishment.
  • If the disposable income is between $289.99 and $217.51, the amount above $217.51 can be ripped off.
  • If it’s $217.50 or lower, the garnishment is restricted.

What to do when you get a garnishment judgment? Is there any recourse?

The first thing to do is to read the judgment carefully to verify the information to ensure that it’s, in fact, your debt and not something you already paid. If it is, calculate the amount which will be garnished and how it will impact the financial situation. If it seems difficult, consult a consumer law attorney or local legal aid to determine the best option for your situation.

If you are facing the garnishment, you should resort to the following:

Contact the creditor or collection agency to validate any debt you are asked to pay and ask for proof of the obligation.
You should be ready to respond to any court summons. Failure to turn up at the court hearing will likely treat a garnishment judgment against you.
To avoid wage garnishment, explore all available alternatives including debt settlement and debt consolidation.

Wage garnishment generally continues until paused by the court order or until the debt is paid in full. It is indeed better to be proactive and try to avoid garnishment by working out a repayment plan with the creditors. It should be noted that if a written answer to the lawsuit is not submitted, it will result in a default judgment for the creditor.

To do list when you actually face a writ lawsuit for wage garnishment:

You actually have a few alternatives when there is no slip-hole and you face the writ lawsuit for wages garnishment judgment.

  • You can ask the court to set aside the default judgment and give you an opportunity to challenge it.

If you believe that there is seriously some mistake done by entering a default judgment against you, you can fight the lawsuit stating any of the below 6 genuine reasons of Rule 60.

  • Excusable neglect
  • Freshly discovered evidence
  • Fraud
  • Void judgment
  • Discharged judgment
  • Any other specific reason which justifies release from the default judgment.

You can settle the debt with the creditor for an amount less than what the default judgment is for.

You actually lose the leverage of settling the debt once the judgment is entered. So, now prepare and establish a budget of whatever you are able to do to settle the debt in a lump sum or on a monthly basis.

Finally, you can opt to eliminate the default judgment completely by filing for bankruptcy.

While bankruptcy affects your credit score negatively, sometimes it’s the only option left if the lawsuit being dealt with is only the beginning. It will eliminate most of the debts, as well as the judgment.

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