When you owe a creditor a substantial amount of money, they may attempt to collect that debt by garnishing your wages. They could take a portion of your paycheck or even take funds directly from your bank account, either of which can put you in a tough financial spot. But the good news is, whether you’re on the verge of having your wages garnished or it’s already happening, it’s possible to stop a creditor from taking your hard-earned money.
Let’s take a look at what you can do to prevent your wages from being garnished.
Seek Legal Advice on How to Object to the Garnishment
You can object to wage garnishment if losing a portion of your paycheck or funds from your bank account will prevent you from paying for basic necessities like groceries or housing expenses. But regulations regarding the wage garnishment objection process vary from state to state. As such, it’s in your best interest to consult with an attorney who’s familiar with the laws in Minnesota.
Keep in mind, however, that there’s a small window of time during which you can challenge the judgment before the garnishment begins. It could be as little as a few days from the date you receive notice or even as long as a month, depending on the type of debt you owe. You can still object after you’re wages are already being garnished, but you’ll lose any money the creditor takes from your paychecks or your bank account.
It’s also important to note that in Minnesota, creditors can begin wage garnishment without obtaining a judgment. However, they must first serve you with a lawsuit. If you fail to answer that lawsuit in the specified amount of time, the creditor can force you to pay against your will.
File an Exemption Form
If you receive certain forms of need-based government assistance, your wages may be exempt from garnishment. But that exemption doesn’t happen automatically. To qualify for it, you must determine whether the type of need-based assistance you’ve received makes you eligible for exemption and complete the appropriate paperwork.
You’ll need to return an exemption notice and copies of your last 60 days of bank statements to your creditor’s attorney. If you’re unsure how to handle this process, it’s in your best interest to work with an attorney who’s familiar with exemption requirements in Minnesota.
File for Bankruptcy
If you’re in serious financial distress, filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy can also stop wage garnishment in its tracks. That’s true whether the garnishment hasn’t started yet or has been going on for months or even years.
When you file for bankruptcy, the court issues something called an automatic stay, which prevents your creditors from taking any further collection action against you. Since wage garnishment is a form of debt collection, your creditor(s) must stop the wage garnishment immediately upon issuance of the stay.
Bankruptcy Doesn’t Stop All Wage Garnishments
Although filing for bankruptcy will stop most wage garnishments, it can’t stop all of them. If you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and your wages are being garnished for back child support or alimony, your creditors don’t have to stop garnishing your wages.
Filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, on the other hand, will stop all wage garnishments, including those for domestic support obligations. However, you must agree to a three- to five-year debt repayment plan when you file for Chapter 13, so you’ll still end up paying what you owe in the end.
When you file for bankruptcy, it may be possible to recover any garnished wages that were taken during the 90-day period immediately prior to your filing date. Your bankruptcy attorney can help you determine whether you’re eligible to collect those funds and assist with the process should you choose to take this route.
Need Legal Advice for Stopping Wage Garnishment?
Whether your wages are already being garnished or you’re on the verge of garnishment, get in touch with Ron Lundquist, Attorney at Law to discuss your options. As one of the Twin Cities’ foremost bankruptcy attorneys, I can help you determine whether bankruptcy is right for your situation and guide you successfully through the process.
To get started, feel free to give my office a call today at 651-454-0007 or request a free consultation online, and a member of my team will be in touch with you promptly.