Bankruptcy Stops Wage Garnishments

Bankruptcy Stops Wage Garnishments

What is a wage garnishment?

A wage garnishment is an order to withhold your wages for the payment of a money judgment obtained by a creditor against you.  The order is served upon your employer directly.  In addition to the original debt owed to the creditor, the money judgment may also include attorney’s fees, costs of suit, and post-judgment interest. Note that the IRS may garnish your wages as an administrative levy without a court order.

How much of your wages can be garnished?

In general, in California, a maximum of 25% of your disposable income may be withheld to pay the judgment against you.

Can Bankruptcy stop a wage garnishment?

Filing for bankruptcy (Chapter 7, 13, or 11) will prevent a wage garnishment or stop a wage garnishment from continuing. Bankruptcy law specifies that a bankruptcy petition operates as a stay of enforcement of a judgment obtained against you prior to commencement of the bankruptcy case.
This law includes a wage garnishment but generally does not include the collection of a “domestic support obligation.”

The debt may also be discharged in bankruptcy in its entirety assuming that it is not in a category of debts which are considered “non-dischargeable.” For example, current taxes, student loans, and unpaid child or spousal support cannot be discharged in Chapter 7. This list of categories is not exhaustive and there are other types of debts which the bankruptcy may not discharge.

However, except for certain categories of debt, bankruptcy can avoid the garnishment and discharge the debt on which the judgment is based.

When must bankruptcy be filed to stop wage garnishment?

You must file for bankruptcy prior to the garnishment taking effect.  The Law Offices of Keith F. Carr is capable of filing your bankruptcy – Chapter 7, 11, or 13 – on an emergency basis. Read more about Emergency Bankruptcy Filings. 

Our office will then send bankruptcy notices to the sheriff’s office which issued the order for garnishment and your employer in order to tell them that bankruptcy prevents the garnishment of your wages.

About Author

Keith F. Carr is an attorney practicing Divorce, Estate Planning, and Bankruptcy. Attorney Keith F. Carr has over 30 years experience. Founder of Law Offices of Keith F. Carr, located in San Francisco, San Jose, and Palo Alto, Ca.

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