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How can I stop wage garnishments?

| Dec 14, 2020 | bankruptcy

You may already be struggling to repay a few different loans and the monthly bills. Then you receive a notice that a creditor will enforce an order requiring your employer to garnish your earnings.

The percentage can vary, but wage garnishments can take an average of 15% of your wages. Many people think there is nothing they can do about wage garnishments, but that is not necessarily true.

Is it possible to stop garnishments?

The short answer is yes. There are a few ways you can stop wage garnishments and preserve your income. The option you choose will generally depend on your individual situation, but the steps to stop wage garnishment can often include:

  • Negotiating with your creditor: You can reach out to your creditor to arrange a payment plan and prevent the garnishments. This can often help in many situations, but it is critical to note that the outcome of these negotiations can be uncertain. Many creditors are willing to negotiate to avoid the complex process of beginning wage garnishments, but others might simply want to have the debt repaid.  Once the garnishment has started, the creditor normally won’t agree to a payment plan.
  • Evaluating a claim of exemption: In some cases, you might be able to object to and stop wage garnishments – or at least reduce them – if you qualify for certain exemptions. This can be possible if the garnishment order does not comply with Illinois law. The order might not comply if it deducts too much from your income, the garnishment affects your ability to obtain basic necessities or it affects exempted income sources, such as Social Security or your retirement.
  • Filing bankruptcy: Dealing with wage garnishments on top of considerable debt can be a serious challenge, but many people worry about filing bankruptcy and the effects it might have. However, bankruptcy offers many protections while you obtain debt relief. For example, when you file Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the automatic stay will stop all collection actions – including wage garnishment.  The garnishment must stop as soon as you file the bankruptcy.  This is a very effective tool to protect your income.

No matter the steps you take or the options you consider, it is important to speak with an experienced attorney about how to move forward. The main goal is to protect your finances and your future, and it is critical to understand the rules that apply to your situation and the strategies to protect your best interests in the long run.