Bankruptcy Alphabet- G is for Garnishment

Bankruptcy Lawyer

Many of my colleagues throughout the country participating in the “Alphabet Game” have also thought that in the Bankruptcy Alphabet, G does stand for Garnishment.  I, too, think that the concept of Garnishment is important.  What is Garnishment, and what can a bankruptcy do do one? 

Garnishment is not a pretty piece of parsley on your plate.  In a legal context, it is the procedure that creditors use to take money from your paycheck.  If you stop paying on your bills, such as credit card bills, the creditors can sue you and get a judgment.  By the time you get to that point, you would have a lot a warning, because there are lots of procedures the creditor has to go through to even get the judgment.  After that, they can find out where you work and serve a “Wage Deduction Summons” on your job. This is a legal order requiring your employer to deduct money from your paycheck to pay this creditor.  InIllinois, they can deduct up to 15% of your gross pay, each pay period.   When you are struggling to pay your bills with a regular paycheck, that deduction hurts, and, even worse, it adds up.

One way to stop a garnishment is by filing Bankruptcy. Bankruptcy is a Federal law, which stops all collection activities by creditors.  Filing Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy creates an immediate and “Automatic Stay”, which stops any lawsuit in its tracks right away.  All that needs to happen is for your bankruptcy lawyer to send a notice to the collection attorney and your employer.  But, remember that the Bankruptcy case needs to be filed with the court to get that protection.  And, also remember that a client needs to provide all of the tax returns, pay stubs, and other documents, pay the retainer, AND complete the required pre-filing counseling course, and review and sign a bankruptcy petition before the attorney can file any Bankruptcy case.  Of course, it is best to stop a garnishment before it starts, so, it is best to file the Bankruptcy case before the first deduction. 

What if a garnishment has already started, and money is coming from your check?  Is it too late?  No, it’s not too late to stop future deductions. However, you may or may not be able to get back some of the money already taken from your paycheck.  Whether you can get the money back depends on the timing of the bankruptcy filing.  The key is to see a Bankruptcy attorney right away when you get any court papers.  The quicker you act, the greater chance you have of protecting your paycheck. 

For more information about your specific situation, be sure to call an experienced Bankruptcy attorney.  InNorthern IllinoisorSouthern Wisconsin, call:

Daniel J. Winter
53W. Jackson Boulevard
Chicago,IL 60604