Owing debt isn’t fun, but it’s something that happens to almost everyone. It’s all too easy for a single setback or a bad year to turn into a big pile of debt. The vast majority of people in debt today have every intention of fulfilling their debt responsibilities. They just aren’t in a good position to do so. Often it takes years to get their finances under control. Unfortunately, creditors want their money now. Phone calls from debt collectors or angry exes can get downright scary.
It’s a sad truth that when it comes to debt, unreasonable threats are often made to debtors. Debt collectors are notorious for threatening to call the police and have someone arrested, to smear their name on the internet, or to forcibly have a debtor’s wages garnished. If you have heard this threat recently from a debt collector, ex-spouse, or other debtor, you may be wondering “Can they really do that?” The fact is that not just anyone waving an unanswered invoice can talk to your boss and have your wages garnished. There are a few very ways wage garnishment can take place and it helps to know where you stand in the situation.
Option 1: Debtors File and Win a Lawsuit Against You
In theory, anyone you owe money to can have your wages garnished, but in reality they have to actually file a lawsuit against you. This means paperwork, lawyer fees, and court dates for everyone involved, and filing the lawsuit isn’t actually enough to get your wages garnished. They then have to go face-to-face in court against you, win the lawsuit, and convince a judge to give them a garnishing order. This is the method by which retail companies, services, and private individuals could possibly force payment through wage garnishment.
Small-change debtors are unlikely to take this route because lawsuits aren’t free but watch out for creditors with big names, companies, and organizations who may already have legal staff on-hand.
Option 2: You Owe the Government Money
Considering who gives permission for the garnishment order, it should come as no surprise that a lawsuit is not necessary if the government itself finds you to be an unwilling debtor. If you owe a backlog of federal, state, or local taxes, the government will send you a notice and often give you one last chance join a voluntary repayment program before contacting your employer to arrange for wage garnishment. The IRS will send a wage levy notice to your employer who in turn must give you a copy of the notice. This comes with an exemption claim form that you will need to hold on to.
Option 3: Child Support Non-Payment
The state of Minnesota takes child support very seriously, as does the rest of the country. If you are found by the court to be refusing or unavailable to pay child support, they will make it much easier to fulfill court-ordered payments through wage garnishment. Every new and modified child support order since the year 1988 has included an automatic clause for wage garnishment of non-paying parents in order to streamline the inevitable. It should also be noted that while alimony alone does not warrant wage garnishment, family support payments that include alimony are roped into the child support automatic garnishment policy. On the bright side, if you cover health insurance for the child, the cost of their portion will be deducted from the amount garnished from your wages.
Are you at risk for wage garnishment? Most of the time, when garnishment happens to someone, it’s because their financial life slipped out of control for a while or they were not paying attention to the signs that garnishment was a potential consequence. If you are being threatened with wage garnishment or believe that it is a serious possibility, contact us today. We have the experience to help you out of this unfortunate and sticky situation.
Discuss your concerns with a Minnesota Bankruptcy Attorney who is professional, approachable, responsive, efficient and effective.Call Brea Buettner-Stanchfield at The Buettner Law Group, LLC 612-377-5311 or e-mail now for a free consultation.