Garnishments can be devastating. As a Baltimore Bankruptcy Attorney, I see the effect they have all too often.
Imagine, if you will, this hypothetical: (some of you don’t have to imagine it, you’re living it)
You’ve fallen behind on your credit cards or medical bills, but you’re just managing to stay afloat with your housing and utilities. You’re managing to keep your children fed and clothed and are able to drive them to and from school, soccer practice, and birthday parties. Life isn’t great, but you’re getting by.
You know you need to do something about your debt, but you don’t think you can afford a bankruptcy attorney and you know something this complicated shouldn’t be done on your own. Then you get the notice of a law suit filed against you. A man in a uniform actually comes to your door to serve you with papers. You don’t think you can afford a lawyer so you do nothing, or maybe you show up in court on the day listed on the summons. All too often what happens next is either a default judgment is entered against you, or the judge just rubber stamps the judgment.
The next thing you know, you’re getting a notice from your employer’s payroll department that they’ve been served with a Writ of Garnishment for you and that 25% of your disposable income will be held out of your check. Your definition and the law’s definition of “disposable income” differ drastically. You don’t have 2 nickels to rub together between paydays and suddenly you’re losing 25% of your after tax income.
I don’t know many people who could continue to pay their bills, much less feed and house their children with this kind of hit to their bottom line.
So, what can a Baltimore Bankruptcy Attorney do?
As a Baltimore Bankruptcy Attorney, one of the things I am able to do is quickly put a stop to wage garnishments. This requires an actual bankruptcy filing to succeed, at least most of the time. In some rare cases it is possible to attack the underlying judgment and remove the garnishment without resorting to bankruptcy, but these cases are not the norm.
The first thing that happens when a Bankruptcy is filed is that a Stay is issued. The “Stay” serves to stop or stay any attachment or attempts to attach property of the bankruptcy estate. This includes your income! So, we can stop the garnishment right away.
Additionally, we can often recover any funds garnished within the 90 days immediately preceding the filing of your case. This means you don’t want to drag your feet. Some creditors and their attorneys resist this turnover, so you need someone on your side to stand up for your rights.
At the Grafton Firm, LLC, we’ve been standing up for the rights of Bankruptcy debtor’s since 2003 and look forward to standing up with you to protect your income, protect your assets and protect your family.