GARNISHMENTS: AN INTRODUCTION
A garnishment is the legal process of recovering the funds due a creditor based on a judgment entered by the court. In laymen’s terms, you owe some money. They sued you. Now the can use the court’s power to involuntarily collect the amount owed by issuing a garnishment summons to your bank or employer to withhold the money. Bank garnishments are generally more of a problem because the can freeze all the funds in any account attached to your social security number. This includes money in a joint account with your spouse or parents.
Wage garnishments under Virginia law can only withhold 25% of your income. In the case of both a wage and bank garnishment, the funds are withheld by your bank or payroll service or department and sent to the court that issued the garnishment. The court holds the funds until the court date on the garnishment summons, which is also referred to as the “return date”.
CHAPTER 7 BANKRUPTCY
The power of a Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the permanent elimination of unsecured debt. As with the Chapter 13, it also has the powerful ability to immediately stop legal actions such as repossessions, foreclosures, lawsuits, garnishments and liens. Qualified debt will be eliminated forever. There are several categories of debt that are not eliminated by Chapter 7 such as child support obligations, student loans, criminal restitution, and some taxes. To determine the advantages and disadvantages of a Chapter 7 for you schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys.
CHAPTER 13 BANKRUPTCY
Chapter 13 allows a “wage earner” or working individual to set up a court-supervised plan to repay debt. Most commonly used to halt a foreclosure and repay missed mortgage payments while also restructuring other debt, Chapter 13 is a powerful tool in helping financially distressed individual keep their home and recover from financial setbacks. The Chapter 13 plan also has the ability to extend the time of repayment of debt and is general structured over a three to five year period.
OPTIONS AVAILABLE TO INDIVIDUALS FACING GARNISHMENT
Use Virginia Law To Protect Your Money
Virginia law provides special protection for income such as unemployment, social security, child support, etc. There is also some protection for wage income.
If you are being garnished your credit is already hurting from the missed payments and lawsuits. Bankruptcy is a powerful tool to stop a garnishment and eliminate debt. You have to act quickly.
Settling The Debt
Payment of the judgment will, of course, stop all collection actions. However, most people don’t have the funds to pay in full. Generally, a creditor will not accept payments once a garnishment is in place but it is worth a call.