Wage Garnishment Lawyers in Oakland, CA
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Wage garnishment, also known as "attachment," occurs when a certain portion of your paycheck is withheld from you and used to pay back a creditor or debt collector. When this happens, your employer takes the money out before you receive your check. Wage garnishment can cause both embarrassment (since your employer is dragged into your financial troubles) and severe financial hardship (since you are forced to make ends meet with less income).
If your wages are being garnished, you may find yourself struggling more than before to pay off your other debts. At The Kostopoulos Bankruptcy Law, we can help you explore bankruptcy as an option to not only stop your garnishment, but to help get rid of your debts.
Can Bankruptcy Stop Wage Garnishment?
Yes. If you are suffering from wage garnishment or you are at risk of having your wages garnished, you may be able to put a stop to this action through bankruptcy. Once you declare bankruptcy, you get to benefit from an automatic stay, which brings your creditors' collection efforts (including wage garnishment) to a halt while you undergo the bankruptcy process. After filing your case, your attorney can inform your employer and the garnishing creditor about your bankruptcy case so they can put a stop to the garnishment. Continuing with the garnishment can be a violation of the automatic stay.
Our bankruptcy attorneys in Oakland can review your financial situation and help you determine whether bankruptcy can be an effective option to obtain relief from wage garnishment.
How Much of Your Paycheck Can Be Garnished in California?
State and federal wage garnishment laws set certain limitations on how much of a debtor's check can be withheld. In California, wages can only be garnished up to the following amount (as calculated by the workweek):
- Up to 25% of the debtor's disposable income, or
- 40 times the state's minimum wage minus the debtor's weekly disposable income (whichever of the two is less).
In contrast, federal law allows wage garnishment at either up to 25% of the debtor's disposable income or up to 30 times the federal minimum wage (whichever is less). As can be seen here, debtors have a greater level of protection under California law than they do under federal law when it comes to wage garnishment. Even so, the greatest level of protection would be avoiding wage garnishment altogether, which may be a possibility when the debtor files for bankruptcy.
What Types of Income Can Be Garnished?
Creditors and debt collectors can only garnish your wages with a court judgment, which is obtained after the creditor or debt collectors sues you. Most income can be garnished, but some types of income are exempt.
What can be garnished?
- Regular wages from your workplace
- Investment income
- Bank accounts
What is exempt from wage garnishment?
- Social Security benefits
- Workers' compensation payments
- Unemployment benefits
- Retirement accounts
However, there are certain types of debt that can be collected through wage garnishment even without a court judgment. These include overdue income tax debt, unpaid child support and defaulted student loan debt.
Questions About Filing for Bankruptcy?
If you have questions about filing for bankruptcy, feel free to contact our team for help. Your consultation is free, and we would be happy to go over your concerns and help you determine if bankruptcy is the right path for you at this time.