There are different forms of wage garnishments, including IRS and other government levies. This article will discuss wage garnishment in Connecticut relating to individual civil court judgments.
Prior to a Wage Garnishment
Prior to attaching wages, a creditor needs to commence legal proceedings against a debtor and obtain judgment. When the court renders judgment in favor of a creditor, it usually sets a weekly payment amount and the date that the debtor must begin making payments. In many cases, the court will order nominal payments of $35.00 per week. It is important to note that if the total judgment is large enough and the court allows post-judgment interest, $35.00 a week may not be sufficient to cover the interest.
If the judgment debtor makes her / his weekly installments, there should be no wage attachment. If the debtor misses a weekly payment, the creditor can apply to the court for a wage execution. Once the court signs the execution it is usually given to a State Marshal who will serve the execution on the judgment debtor’s employer. If this happens, the debtor will not only be responsible to repay the balance of the judgment, but the application fee and Marshal fees. Furthermore, the employer may be required to take 25% of the debtor employee’s disposable earnings, not just $35.00 per week.
Stopping a Wage Garnishment
There are limited ways to stop a wage garnishment. The best way is to avoid the garnishment in the first place. Be proactive, seek a bankruptcy attorney and get legal advice to help you make the right decision. It is my experience that most wage attachments occur because the debtor didn’t understand the process of what needed to be done and when. In other cases, the debtor ignored letters, pleadings and notices from the creditor and the court.
The debtor can attempt to work out a voluntary agreement with the creditor. However, most creditors will refuse to cooperate, especially if the debtor has previously missed a payment. Again, being proactive may help avoid the attachment and it costs and consequences. As soon as the debtor knows he / she cannot make the payment, they should call the creditor or it’s attorney and ask for a forbearance.
Bankruptcy and Wage Garnishments
Bankruptcy will not only stop a wage garnishment, but in most cases it will also discharge the debtor’s obligation to pay the entire balance due on the judgment and all other dischargeable debts. Many people don’t like the idea of filing bankruptcy, but debtors in this situation should immediately seek a bankruptcy consultation regardless of their feelings. In most cases when a debtor qualifies for bankruptcy relief, it is the best decision to improve the debtor’s family’s quality of life. It is also the fastest means of restoring the debtor’s credit. Anyone in a difficult financial position should at least learn the pros and cons of bankruptcy from an expert.
Modifying a Wage Garnishment
If a debtor is unable to stop the garnishment, they can ask the court to modify the attachment. The court will modify an attachment if the request is reasonable.
The worse thing anyone can do is being passive and not address a law suit or any of the proceedings that follow. Open mail and read every document received. Get advice, be informed and this will limit the potential damage that can happen.
Get a free consult from Bellenot & Boufford – Serving Danbury, Connecticut and all of Fairfield and New Haven Counties.