Imagine that you are having difficulty paying all of your bills and have fallen behind on some monthly payments. Suddenly, you notice that your paycheck is lower than you expected and you come to find out that a creditor has garnished your wages in order to collect on an unpaid debt. Now, since your paychecks are less, you have even more trouble paying your other bills or even covering everyday expenses such as food for your family or fuel for your car. If you can relate to this situation, you should contact an experienced debt relief attorney who can advise you of your options as soon as possible.
Fighting Wage Garnishments
Fortunately, there are numerous ways to challenge a wage garnishment in Missouri. First, you must make sure that the garnishment is valid. Government agencies such as the IRS may garnish your wages on their own, though private creditors must first obtain a judgment in court. If a creditor does not have a proper judgment, the garnishment is not valid.
Even if the creditor has a proper judgment, an attorney can negotiate with the company to lower the amount of the garnishment. Some companies are willing to work with you as long as they know they will receive some money each month, and a lawyer can talk to them and convince them to decrease your garnishment amount. Additionally, if you provide over 50 percent of the income for your family, an attorney can help you file an exemption due to being head of household.
For a few select types of debt, a wage garnishment can attach without any type of court action or even notice to you. If you owe the following types of debt, you may find your wages suddenly garnished:
- Court ordered child support (current payments)
- Child support arrears (overdue payments)
- Federal income taxes
- Student loans in default
Fortunately, both federal and Missouri laws set limits on the amount of your wages a creditor may garnish. For example, in one work week, your wages may be garnished up to the following limits, whichever is lesser:
- 10% of disposable income for the head of household
- 25% of disposable income for non-head of household
- The amount that your disposable earnings are more than 30 times the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour
This limit is intended to make sure you can still pay for your other living expenses after the garnishment. However, it is usually the case that the garnishment makes it nearly impossible to do so.
Even if none of the above apply to you, a lawyer can advise you whether bankruptcy could help. Filing bankruptcy will not only put an immediate stop to all garnishments, but can also help you wipe out your unpaid debt and start with a clean slate.
If you are struggling financially, a wage garnishment will only make your situation more challenging. An experienced St. Louis debt relief lawyer has many methods for fighting wage garnishment to decrease the amount subtracted from your wages or to stop the garnishment altogether. Whether it involves filing an exemption or filing for bankruptcy, we can help you get back on your feet after a garnishment. Do not hesitate to call the Law Office of Kenneth P. Carp at 636-947-3600 today for help.