by Mark E. Godbey, Lawyer Referral Service Panelist
If your wages are being garnished, it probably means you have already been sued, you lost, your creditor or whomever you owed the debt to got their judgment in court, and now they are trying to collect and interest is continuing to accrue which can substantially increase the debt you owe. In Ohio, up to 25 percent of your gross pay can be garnished. So, if you make earn $15 an hour and that amounts to $600 a week, $150 can be taken out of your paycheck each time you get paid.
There are three main ways to stop the garnishment: negotiate a settlement; negotiate a payment plan; or file bankruptcy. While some people may have success in negotiating a payment plan outside the on-going garnishment, the reality is most creditors will not accept these plans because they are already receiving regularly garnished funds. Some people are also able to negotiate a settlement but given these settlements require lump sums of funds, most people do not have these funds available to settle.
If you are unable to settle or negotiate, filing a bankruptcy is your best option because federal bankruptcy law requires the lawsuit and garnishment stop immediately upon the filing of your case. Additionally with the bankruptcy, all interest and late fees immediately stop accruing upon the filing of your case even if you are going to file a Chapter 13.
Someone who is facing a wage garnishment or other serious financial situation should consider consulting a bankruptcy attorney as soon as possible to discuss their specific situation.