Are your wages currently being garnished? Or are you concerned about that happening? Either way, it isn’t too late B an experienced Utah attorney can stop or even prevent wage garnishments.
In Salt Lake City, the Law Office of Lee J. Davis is here to help you get a handle on your debts and regain financial control. We’ve helped more than 20,000 Utah residents find new hope, and we can do the same for you. Here’s what you need to know about how to stop and prevent wage garnishments.
How Wage Garnishment Works
Wage garnishments, or wage attachments, are potent tools for creditors. A judgment allows creditors to take money directly from your paycheck B before you even see it. Sometimes this case occur with little warning.
Most creditors can’t garnish your wages until they have sued you for the outstanding debt and won a judgment in a Utah court. When one of your creditors obtains a court judgment, that judgment gives them the right to take some of your earnings until your debt is paid in full. Once formally notified, your employer is legally required to withhold a portion of your paycheck and send the money directly to your creditor.
There are some exceptions to that rule. Certain creditors can garnish your wages without first obtaining a Utah court judgment. This may happen if you owe any of the following:
- Past-due income taxes
- Defaulted student loans
- Unpaid child support or alimony
How Much Creditors Can Take from Your Paycheck
The amount of money that can be garnished from your paycheck is limited. In Utah, the federal wage garnishment laws apply B unfortunately, ours isn’t one of the states that has imposed stricter limits.
Under the law, most creditors are limited to taking the lesser of:
- 25 percent of your disposable earnings, or the amount by which your earnings exceed 30 times the federal minimum wage (the amount of income above the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour times 30 hours in a week)
But again, there are exemptions to this rule. The federal limits differ for certain types of debts:
- For delinquent federal or Utah state taxes, up to 15 percent of your disposable earnings can be garnished
- For defaulted federal student loans, 15 percent of your disposable income is the limit for wage attachment
- For unpaid child support and alimony, 50 percent of your wages can be taken if you’re supporting a spouse or another child B if not, 60 percent can be garnished
- For domestic support obligations that are more than 12 weeks past due, an additional 5 percent of your disposable earnings can be taken
How an Attorney Can Stop and Prevent Wage Garnishments
If you have been notified that your income is going to be garnished B or if your earnings are already being taken to satisfy a debt — an experienced lawyer can help. Attorneys who specialize in this area of the law know how to stop and prevent wage garnishments. Depending upon your specific situation, a lawyer may recommend one of the following approaches:
Object to the Garnishment
If the wage attachment was made in error or the creditor failed to follow crucial laws and procedures B or if your attorney can prove that garnishing your wages will cause undue harm B filing a written objection with the Utah court and requesting a hearing may be the appropriate course of action.
Negotiate a Resolution
Your attorney may be able to prevent a wage garnishment by negotiating a debt settlement or payment plan. Many creditors prefer this to dealing with cost- and time-consuming wage attachments, and an experienced lawyer may be able to negotiate an agreement that works to your benefit.
File a Bankruptcy Petition
Filing for bankruptcy can be an effective way to stop or prevent a wage garnishment. When your attorney files a Utah bankruptcy case, an automatic stay kicks in. The automatic stay acts like a court order that puts an immediate halt to garnishments and most other creditor collection actions.
Both Chapter 7 bankruptcy and Chapter 13 bankruptcy can immediately stop and prevent wage garnishments. However, nondischargeable debts — like back taxes, student loans that are in arrears and unpaid domestic support B can’t be managed via a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case. If you want to stop a wage garnishment for this type of debt, your attorney will likely recommend filing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition.
Consult with an Experienced Wage Garnishment Attorney
A wage attachment can be devastating. Delaying will only make the situation worse. If you’re faced with a garnishment, make it a priority to meet with a legal professional.
The experienced wage garnishment attorneys at the Law Office of Lee J. Davis, P.C., can evaluate your income, debts and financial goals to determine the best resolution. And whatever the recommendation, you can expect support and guidance throughout the process.
Our wage garnishment attorneys specialize in debt relief, and Utah residents rely on the Law Office of Lee J. Davis to find the best solution for financial problems. Whether your circumstances call for a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy claim or a debt settlement arrangement, our legal team can provide you with the assistance you need.
Since 1995, when the Law Office of Lee J. Davis was founded, our attorneys have offered free consultations to residents of Salt Lake City and the surrounding northern Utah area. Let us put you on the path to debt relief in Utah. To learn how we can permanently stop and prevent wage garnishments, contact us and schedule a complimentary consultation today.