Wage garnishment can be extremely burdensome.

If a creditor has won a judgment against you, meaning that they have successfully sued you for non-repayment of debt, your wages may be garnished. This means your employer must withhold up to as much as 25% of your disposable earnings and give that money directly to the creditor, continuing until your debt has been paid off.

Cutting that much income out of the equation often makes it difficult to make ends meet. If, due to a wage garnishment, you are coming up short for rent, bills, or living expenses, you should know that you have rights and options- it is important to explore them fully. Don’t just sit back and let a wage garnishment happen!

Remember that most creditors must have a court order to garnish your wages, with the exception of unpaid back taxes, child support, and student loan debt. Also remember that you may not be fired in the event of a court-ordered wage garnishment.

If you want to challenge a wage garnishment, you must file papers with the court to schedule a hearing date, where you will present evidence showing that you cannot subsist on the amount that is left of your paycheck after a garnishment.. You also can bring evidence of any exemptions you may qualify for. Exemptions can vary by state, but might include something like a “head of household” exemption- you must provide for your dependents, and due to a wage garnishment, your ability to do so is greatly reduced. A judge will determine if you qualify for that particular exemption- if you do, the garnishment amount can be reduced or totally eliminated.

To stop a wage garnishment in its tracks, you might consider a bankruptcy. Set aside any negative thoughts or perceptions you have about bankruptcy and consider this: From the moment your bankruptcy petition is filed, an automatic stay becomes effective immediately.

An automatic stay halts actions by creditors (with certain exemptions) to collect on your debt. It will protect you from a wage garnishment or any other attempts by creditors to collect on the debt- judicial proceedings against you, actions to obtain your property, or attempts to create or enforce a lien on your property. The automatic stay will protect you from creditor harassment, your debts will be discharged, and you’ll get a chance to put your past mistakes behind you and start over.