Can I Get My Garnished Wages Back?
Are your wages being drained each paycheck due to harsh wage garnishments imposed through the court due to a creditor’s actions? You are probably pretty frustrated by now and looking for a way to stop it. Even better would be if you were able to get back what they took. But is it possible?
Bankruptcy law states that when you file for bankruptcy, your wage garnishments will be stopped by an automatic stay, assuming the garnishments weren’t being used to repay child support obligations or student loans. This brick wall can feel pretty relieving but, in most situations, it will not restore the wages that have already been taken from you.
Two circumstances may allow you to retrieve you garnished wages:
- $600 or more was taken each time your wages were garnished.
- Those garnishments occurred within 90 days of your bankruptcy filing.
If you were never garnished for $600 or more, you cannot get them back. Any wages garnished 90 days out will not be given back. For this reason, it is imperative that you act quickly as soon as you notice your wages are being garnished.
You should also consider whether or not pursuing garnished wages will be worth it. While it might seem like it is always beneficial to get back your property, mathematics might be working against you. To retrieve garnished wages, you need to file an “adversary proceeding,” which is not free. Court costs and legal fees could cost you more than you try to get back, essentially making the whole thing moot. Of course, you are free to try to convince the creditor or agency that was garnishing your wages to give them back with a demand letter; there is nothing to stop you from asking but there is also nothing obligating them to give them over.
In one last instance, if you were fast with your filing, your garnished wages may still be held by your employer, having never been forwarded to the creditor. If those funds fit into your bankruptcy exemptions, they may be yours again and to keep just by talking to your boss.
However, all of this can be wrought with complications. Businesses, especially creditors, tend to be quite particular with how their money is handled. To avoid making any critical mistakes and jeopardizing your garnished wages, you should call 904-471-3434 to connect with Albaugh Law Firm at our offices in Jacksonville and St. Augustine so that our bankruptcy attorneys can explain your rights and options during a free initial consultation.