If you owe money to a specific creditor and haven’t paid the debt, the creditor can pass a judgement against you to garnish your wages from your paycheck before you receive the money. In order to do this, the creditor needs to either sue you court and win or receive a default judgement due to your lack of response. Then, the judgement is sent to your employer, letting them know that a certain amount of money should come out of your paycheck every month before you receive it. As soon as you realize that this may be the case for you, you might be wondering about how to stop a wage garnishment in Seattle. Here are 4 things that you can do to stop it:
1. File for an Exemption
There are a number of exemptions that can stop a creditor from garnishing your wages based on your household income, the number of dependents that you support, the type of income that you receive, or whether or not you’re retired. Ask yourself the following questions to determine if you could be eligible for one of these exemptions:
• Do I provide over 50% of the support for my dependents?
• Do I pay child support or alimony for my dependents?
• Do I receive social security or disability benefits?
To file for an exemption, you’ll need to print off the form online, fill it out, and bring it to the county clerk’s office. You can also find the forms in the county clerk’s office if you’re having a hard time locating it online.
2. File a State-Specific Exemption
Each state handles garnishments a little differently. For example, in Ohio, a person can appoint a trustee who receives payments every month and determines how much to pay each creditor. Once a trustee has been appointed, you can’t garnish that person’s wages any more.
In Washington, a creditor can take up to 25% of your income, but only one creditor can file a garnishment against you at a time. If your creditor is trying to take more than 25% of your income or you have multiple creditors filing against you, you can file an exemption.
3. File for Bankruptcy
As soon as you file for bankruptcy, the wage garnishment will be terminated. You’ll have to make sure that your creditor and the county clerk receives notice that you filed for bankruptcy in order for the garnishment to end. Of course, it depends on the type of bankruptcy that you file. If you choose to file a chapter 7 bankruptcy, your debt will be discharged and the garnishment will be terminated for good. On the other hand, a chapter 13 bankruptcy will stop the garnishment, but you’ll still need to make monthly payments using your wages. If this is the route that you choose to use, you can speak with a bankruptcy attorney about the advantages and disadvantages to each type to determine which chapter to file.
4. File a Motion to Vacate
There are several reasons to file a motion to vacate, such as
• The judgement was obtained improperly
• You already paid the debt
• The creditors are taking too much money from your wages
If you feel like one of these situations pertains to you, then you can file a motion to vacate with the county clerk. Make sure to list the reasons to invalidate the garnishment. Then, you should be prepared to file a response and challenge the garnishment in court.
If you still have any questions about how to stop a wage garnishment in Seattle, contact a bankrupt attorney who can review your financial situation and help you determine which method will be the best one for you.