Regardless of how much money you earn per month after your tax deductions, you become accustomed to receiving the same regular salary and manage your expenses and living standards accordingly. For example, after you receive a promotion or a pay increase you may decide to upgrade your car, to move into a bigger apartment, or make any number of other amendment to your living style. If that income is suddenly snatched away or reduced then it’s not so easy to downgrade. If you experience a garnishment of wages then you may notice a significant difference in how much take home pay you have each month. The money is no longer there, but the bills still are, and this can cause a lot of stress and financial difficulty.
What is Garnishment of Wages
Garnishment of wages occurs when you owe a particular amount of money to a creditor or a company and they have a portion of this automatically deducted from your paycheck each month. In most cases, garnishment of wages is considered as a last resort method of collecting debt. If a creditor feels as though they have exhausted all other methods of regaining funds from you, and they have tried to communicate numerous times to no avail, they may resort to garnishing your paycheck. You may not be expecting this to occur however, and may not be familiar with the processes for debt collection or the options that you have as a person with a less than perfect financial situation.
Wage garnishment can occur for virtually any financial debt – from unpaid taxes and consumer debt, to missed child support payments.
Are Businesses Allowed to Jump to Garnishing My Paycheck?
In a word: No. Garnishment of wages should only occur after a procedure (a court judgement) has taken place. With that said, there will still be instances where a decision to garnish wages is made in favor of the creditor, and where the person who is receiving the deductions from their salary does not agree with the decision. In fact, based on a report conducted by payroll processor ADP, it is estimated that over 7% of employed Americans have their wages garnished annually. That is not an insignificant amount. Though the process is complex and stressful, this article will discuss your options if you find your wages are being garnished and you either deem it as unfair and unjust, or you are struggling financially as a result. There are ways you can stop garnishment of wages.
Here’s How to Stop Your Wages From Being Garnished
Communicate with Your Creditors
This one may not necessarily help you if you are already seeing deductions from your paycheck. However if you are not quite at the wage garnishment stage yet but are concerned that it is fast approaching, heed this warning and call your creditors.
If you just ignored your debts because you cannot pay them, they will not go away and if anything, the creditor’s pursuit will just get more and more aggressive. If you are struggling, calling your creditors and let them know about your situation. They may be able to give you more time to gather funds by putting a temporary freeze on your account, or they may reduce repayments to make them more manageable.
Check the Specifics
Ensure that you are informed about your rights regarding garnishment of wages. There are rules in place, but as with many things in life, people do not always adhere to them. If is illegal for your creditors to garnish more than 25% of your paycheck. Your social security benefits and any welfare that you receive should be exempt from garnishment.
Contest it if You Believe it is Unfair
Wage garnishment is the number one cause of bankruptcy in the United States.
If you are being forced to repay more than you are able to afford or you disagree with the entire decision about garnishing your paycheck then you can file a claim through the courts. Some people feel powerless when they fall victim to wage garnishment but you should remember that you also have a say in how much money you pay out, it should not be dictated to you.
Try to Pay Off the Debt
Assess your options and finances to see if there is any way you can pay off the debt outside of the wage garnishment. If you are able to scrape the money together to pay the debt in one fell swoop then this is preferred by the creditor. Perhaps you had some money set aside that you can use or you could borrow from a relative or friend for a short period.
It is also not prohibited to contact your creditor while the garnishment is in place. Perhaps together you could come to a settlement agreement. In some cases the creditor may agree to reduce the amount of their claim somewhat in order to close off the case and reclaim as much as they are able.
File For Bankruptcy
In extreme cases where you cannot afford the garnishment at all and it is impacting your standard of living and ability to keep up other costs, you can file for bankruptcy. Bankruptcy should not be taken lightly since it is a very complex, arduous and expensive process and should only be utilized once all other avenues have been exhausted. If this really does feel like your only way out of the situation, then once your bankruptcy is granted, all garnishments of wages will be stopped immediately.
Did you just file for bankruptcy? Not sure what’s going to happen next?
Filing for bankruptcy is a difficult but sometimes necessary decision to make. Maybe you’ve had to file because of divorce.
Once you’ve submitted all of those papers, it may feel like it’s time to play the waiting game.
Navigating bankruptcy doesn’t have to be confusing or unpredictable. It is possible to find support as you go through this time and answers to the questions you have.
Read on to learn about what happens after you file for bankruptcy so that you can feel prepared for the future.
1. Types of Bankruptcy
What happens after you file for bankruptcy can depend on what type of bankruptcy you file for–Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. However, the steps in this post are generally applicable to both.
Chapter 7 bankruptcy is for individuals with little to no income or assets. It is essentially a liquidation bankruptcy that gets rid of all debts.
Chapter 13 bankruptcy is for individuals with the financial or property means to pay back part of their debts. It involves a repayment plan and is often referred to as reorganization bankruptcy.
The main difference between the two types of bankruptcy is whether or not individuals get to keep property. Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidates all assets while Chapter 13 enables people to keep their property and participate in a payment plan to pay off debt.
2. Your Case Is Assigned a Number and a Judge
After you file for bankruptcy, your situation immediately becomes a case in the eyes of the law. This means that your case will be given a case number–just like a medical claim number–and will also be assigned a trustee and a judge.
Your case number is very important. Once you do receive it, it’s important to have it on hand at all times. You will be able to give this case number to any creditors who come knocking–they won’t be able to hound you the moment that your bankruptcy filing becomes a case due to the law of automatic stay.
Throughout the extent of your case, creditors and other financial institutions won’t be able to contact you because of automatic stay. They will have to speak with the court itself if they want to have a conversation.
Your trustee will be an important contact. He or she will be asking you the majority of questions during your court appearances.
You will likely already have an attorney at this point, such as a Stone Law Firm Columbia bankruptcy lawyer. He or she will be essential after you file for bankruptcy.
3. The Creditors Meeting Date is Set
After you file for bankruptcy and receive your case assignation, a date for your creditor’s meeting will be set. Any of your creditors can come to this court meeting.
The creditors meeting will give the trustee a chance to walk you through a series of questions. It also permits any creditors to ask you any questions.
Typically, the date for this meeting will be set for one to two months after you file for bankruptcy. Sometimes this date can change, however, given the busy court schedules.
4. Your Attorney Steps In
In the interim between your filing and first court appearance, your attorney will take the reins for a while. He or she will take care of some necessary paperwork and communications.
This includes communicating with the trustee for your case, making sure all documents are in order. Your attorney will also make sure that any other attorneys involved in your situation are aware of the case and that any ongoing lawsuits cease.
Most importantly, your attorney will appraise all property and assets you own. If you are filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, this property may be sold to pay back creditors.
Your attorney will also have a conversation with you about the types of questions your trustee will ask you at the creditors meeting, so you can feel confident in how you’ll answer.
5. You Attend the Creditors Meeting
Most creditors meetings don’t involve any creditors. You’ll appear in court and answer the trustee’s questions, many of which your attorney will have briefed you on beforehand.
Make sure you request a full day off at work for your hearing and make any arrangements to be in court for as long as you can.
If any creditors come to your meeting, you’ll also have to answer questions they pose to you.
Generally, the trustee will be able to close your meeting after asking you questions. This means that you won’t have to appear in court again.
6. The Case May be Adjourned
In some cases, your case will be adjourned. This happens when the trustee needs more information in the form of documents from you and your attorney. Your case will then have a second hearing, but you likely won’t have to appear in this one.
In general, most cases are closed after the first hearing, especially if your attorney has covered all of your documentation beforehand.
7. You Obtain a Discharge
Once your case is closed, you’ll be given notice that you will be discharged within sixty days. Between the date of your discharge and your first hearing, you’ll have to undergo one more counseling session.
Your discharge means that you have a fresh financial horizon ahead of you. Your creditors, employers, and other attorneys involved in lawsuits will be notified immediately via mail.
In general, you can expect to be discharged between three and five months after you file for bankruptcy.
If you’ve filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, your discharge will occur after you’ve fulfilled a repayment plan. This can be in the form of years following your filing for bankruptcy.
8. Time to Begin Again
After you obtain a discharge, it’s time to breathe easy. You can rebuild credit and take control of a new financial future.
Discharged individuals often engage in financial counseling to ensure they can navigate life after bankruptcy with confidence.
What Happens After You File For Bankruptcy
Bankruptcy may always feel unexpected, but you don’t have to navigate it alone. After you file for bankruptcy, you can expect a clear path with a clear outcome.
Once you file your bankruptcy papers, your case will be assigned a number and a trustee. Your attorney will help you prepare for a court hearing and also assess your property values. Most individuals filing for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy can expect to be discharged within three to five months after filing.
Following discharge, individuals are free to begin again financially.
At Halt.org, you can browse our extensive attorney directory so that you can find the bankruptcy attorney you need to navigate this time. Learn more about us or start browsing today.
In their wedding vows, couples vow to stay married until death does them part. Unfortunately, life does not always work out as planned. In the United States alone, over 800,000 people file for divorce every year.
Divorce can be a messy and frustrating process. In addition to emotional strain and custody battles, many divorced people face financial difficulties as they transition back to singlehood.
Are you facing financial challenges after ending your marriage? Then you may be surprised to learn that bankruptcy after divorce could be your best option. Here’s everything you need to know about declaring bankruptcy, and how to decide if it’s right for you.
Why File for Bankruptcy?
There are many reasons individuals may choose to file for bankruptcy after the divorce. In most cases, the decision is based on the challenge of transitioning from a dual income to a single income household.
For instance, if you used to split your rent or mortgage payments with your spouse, taking on the whole cost yourself can make it difficult to keep up with other bills. Or perhaps you and your spouse used to share a single car, and now you must cover a car payment on your own. These changes can significantly impact your disposable income.
In some cases, individuals are left with debts accrued by their ex-spouse. If your spouse racked up debt on a credit card in your name, those bills won’t go away after the divorce. In some cases, filing for bankruptcy after divorce is a better option than paying off your ex’s debts.
What Happens When You File for Bankruptcy?
When a person files for bankruptcy, they initiate a process that allows them to repay their debts under the protection of a federal program. There are two types of bankruptcy available for individuals.
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
Chapter 7 bankruptcy is also known as liquidation bankruptcy. This is because the bank requires the filer to liquidate and sell off certain assets to pay off their debts. In return for selling off property, unsecured debts like medical debts and credit card debts are forgiven.
Not everyone qualifies for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Individuals with sufficient income to develop a reorganization plan under Chapter 13 are required to take that option most often with the assistance of a bankruptcy attorney.
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
By contrast, Chapter 13 is considered reorganization bankruptcy. Under this process, the debtor creates a 3-5 year plan to pay off their debt in monthly installments. At the end of the repayment period, the remaining balances on most debts are discharged.
The Automatic Stay
Once you file for bankruptcy, an injunction called an automatic stay will go into effect on your assets. This stay protects you from most lawsuits and protects most your assets from repossession by creditors. If your divorce has not been finalized, the stay may also impact proceedings regarding the division of marital property.
What are the Effects of Bankruptcy?
If you are dealing with a significant amount of debt, filing for bankruptcy might sound like a ticket to freedom. To a certain extent, bankruptcy can provide individuals with a fresh start. That said, there are drawbacks to filing that you should seriously consider.
One of the biggest impacts of filing for bankruptcy after divorce is on your credit score. Bankruptcies can impact your credit score for up to ten years. This can make it difficult for you to open new credit cards, get a car loan, or buy a new home.
Luckily, there are ways you can rebuild credit after a bankruptcy by following this guide to Section 609 credit dispute letters. For example, working with a credit union to take out an installment loan or to open a secured credit card can be a good option. While it will take time to restore your credit, it will not be impossible.
There is no form of bankruptcy that will eliminate all of your debts and payment obligations. For instance, bankruptcy will not eliminate outstanding taxes or student loan payments. Additionally, filing for bankruptcy will not free you from an obligation to pay child support.
How Will Bankruptcy Impact My Ex-Spouse?
If you file for bankruptcy, the effect it has on your ex-spouse depends on how your assets were structured.
In some ways, your spouse will be unaffected. For instance, if you file for bankruptcy, that will not impact your spouse’s credit report in any way, even if you had joint debts.
That said, filing for bankruptcy does not free your spouse of their debt obligations. So, if you have a joint debt, your spouse may be held responsible for the entire debt after you file for bankruptcy.
What if My Spouse is Filing For Bankruptcy?
If you are on the other side of the equation, wondering how your ex-spouse’s bankruptcy will affect you, there are steps you can take to protect yourself. For instance, filing for bankruptcy protection can protect you from being held solely responsible for joint debts.
If possible, you should discuss these issues with your spouse before filing for divorce. Filing for a joint bankruptcy, or filing for bankruptcy separately before the divorce, might be a better financial option for both of you.
Getting the Representation You Need
Whether you or your spouse is planning to file for bankruptcy, it is essential to work with a professional. This will ensure that your interests are protected.
When dealing with these kinds of complex financial issues, it is a good idea to work with a law firm with a broad range of expertise. For example, the Wiseman Lee law group has attorneys that specialize in both family law and corporate law. This range of knowledge makes these professionals well suited for working with couples in the process of divorce.
Get Help With Bankruptcy After Divorce
Filing for bankruptcy after divorce can be a challenging process. But if it is the right choice for you, it will be well worth it in the end.
Do you need help navigating your divorce? Then check out our legal directory. The attorneys in our listings are all qualified professionals who can assist you with your legal needs.