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California Wage Garnishment Laws

Being in debt fills your mind with worries, but the consequences of falling behind on your death are more like death by a thousand cuts than a single, dramatic catastrophe. Disasters like getting evicted from your apartment or losing your house or car because you defaulted on the mortgage or auto loan take months before you actually lose the asset that you can no longer afford. Most of the time, the immediate consequence of not making a payment on a debt is just some late fees and, therefore, more debt. Wage garnishment, however, is one of the worst things that can happen if you fall behind on your debts. It is as humiliating as it is financially stressful. Once a wage garnishment starts, the only way to stop it is to go back to court or to pay off the debt. You can, however, prevent wage garnishment before it starts by being proactive. If you are in danger of getting your paychecks garnished, contact an Oakland bank levy lawyer.

Why Does Wage Garnishment Happen?

Wage garnishment is also known as wage attachment or a bank levy. Whatever you call it, it involves the court ordering your employer to send a portion of your paycheck to a creditor before the money even gets to your account. Private creditors such as credit card companies and hospitals cannot garnish your paychecks unless they file a lawsuit against you and the court issues a money judgment followed by a garnishment order. In the case of unpaid taxes, child support, or alimony, the court can order the garnishment to begin without your ex-spouse or the IRS suing you.

How Much Money Can Creditors Garnish From Each Paycheck?

No matter how much you owe, creditors cannot help themselves to your entire paycheck. Instead, the court must calculate two amounts, and the lesser of them is the amount per week that the court can garnish. First, it calculates 25% of your take-home pay, meaning your income after your employer deducts taxes. For the second amount, it calculates the amount you would earn if you worked 40 hours per week at the state minimum wage of $15.50 per hour ($620 per week), and then it subtracts $620 from your take-home pay; 50% of the difference is the amount that can be subject to garnishment. If you earn $1,000 per week after taxes, the first amount is $250, and the second amount is $190, so the court would be able to garnish up to $190 per week. That means if you get paid monthly, the garnishment could be $760 per week.

Can Filing for Bankruptcy Prevent Wage Garnishment?

If a storm is brewing for wage garnishment, filing for bankruptcy protection can stop the garnishment from happening. It can also help you discharge some of your debts so that you can afford to pay others.

Contact the Law Office of Melanie Tavare About Avoiding Wage Garnishment

A bankruptcy lawyer can help you stop creditors from garnishing your paychecks. Contact the Law Office of Melanie Tavare in Oakland, California, or call (510)255-4646 for a free case evaluation.

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