If you owe money to a bank or some other lender, and you fall behind on payments to that lender, you may find yourself subject to wage garnishment. Wage garnishment involves a creditor pulling money (that you presumably owe them) directly from you paycheck. These garnishments can only be made on income left over after your standard deductions for social security, taxes, etc. Your employer is required by law to comply with a court-ordered wage garnishment, so your effort to fight or reduce your garnished wages is not with your employer.
Reducing Wage Garnishment
If you are subject to a wage garnishment, there are ways to reduce or eliminate that garnishment by working with your creditors and the courts.
To mitigate, or eliminate a wage garnishment, you can:
- Act before the garnishment is in place! No wage garnishment can be instituted without a court order, so if you appear at the hearing regarding your debt, be prepared to make your case! Explain your financial predicament to the court, and offer a clear, concise, reasonable plan for repayment. This may go a long way in helping you reduce the amount that is taken out of your paycheck by your creditors.
- Pay your debts in full! You may think this is fanciful, but it can be done! If you apply for a debt consolidation loan, or some other loan to help pay off your creditors with one lump sum, you will not need to be subject to wage garnishment (or a large wage garnishment) for much longer. If you do pay your debts, plus interest and fees, in full, your creditors legally cannot garnish your wages.
- Keep paying down debt, even with the garnishment in place! If you continue paying your debts regularly, you creditors may agree to file to reduce your garnishment or do away with it all together!
- Argue that your garnishment is excessive. If your wage garnishment exceeds 25 percent of your income after taxes, or if it poses an undue hardship on your family, you can argue before a judge to have your wage garnishment reduced. You can consult with an attorney for additional help.
- File for bankruptcy. Bankruptcy translates into an automatic stay on all wage garnishments. During a wage garnishment hearing, or even after your wages are being garnished, be sure to inform the court of your intent to file for bankruptcy to stop wage garnishments.
No matter what route you choose to reduce your wage garnishment, remember that to do so, you must have the ultimate approval by a judge in order to modify any wage garnishment.