Georgia Garnishment Law: Understanding What You Can Do
Whether a creditor just filed a lawsuit to garnish your wages, or the IRS started taking money out of your bank account because you owe back taxes, you want to regain control over your finances and future. Garnishment can be a confusing and stressful process, but in almost all cases you have more ways to respond than you currently realize.
What Is Garnishment?
Garnishment is a process in which a percentage of your money or assets is taken away and applied to repay a debt. Only a court or government agency can issue a garnishment order. Your assets can be taken from your bank account or directly from wages you earn.
Common Situations That Lead to Garnishment
Most creditors must seek court approval to garnish your wages or funds. For instance, if you owe money on past due medical bills or credit cards, your creditors need to obtain a judgment first.
However, garnishment can occur even without a court order in some situations, such as:
- You owe money to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for unpaid federal income tax.
- You owe child support.
- You owe money on a delinquent student loan.
Wage garnishments can reduce your paycheck, but you can’t lose all of your earnings. Both Georgia and federal law cap the amount that can be taken. A typical creditor can deduct as much as 25% of your after-tax income (also known as your “disposable income”). If this income amount is less than 30 times the minimum wage, your wages cannot be garnished at all.
Under special circumstances, you can lose even more of your paycheck. For instance, if you owe child support, up to 50% of your disposable income can be garnished. That percentage can jump up to 60%, if don’t have to take care of a child or other dependent.
Stopping Garnishment in Georgia
Once a creditor has begun to deplete your wages or bank account, you may find yourself strapped, frustrated and scared. If you wait and do nothing — or fail to respond — the situation will always get worse, and your options will dwindle.
Our experienced bankruptcy attorneys can help you:
- Challenge the creditor’s rights to garnish.
- Renegotiate terms with the creditor.
- Reorganize your debts to deal with your most delinquent obligations and thus avert the financial squeeze.
- File for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy protection. This act can freeze the garnishment and give you the opportunity to wipe the slate clean, or restructure your debt into one affordable monthly payment. (Filing bankruptcy may not eliminate or change all garnishments. Each individual client’s situation needs to be analyzed by an experienced bankruptcy attorney to determine the best course of action.)
Contact a Skilled Personal Bankruptcy Lawyer
The Georgia bankruptcy lawyers at Berry & Associates provide a free, confidential consultation to help you understand your options for dealing with a garnishment. We provide debt relief help in Douglasville, Marietta, Conyers, Atlanta, and across North GA. Please contact us today at firstname.lastname@example.org or (877) 815-0306.