Are your New Jersey wages being garnished by a creditor? For many people, who are suffering from debt problems, having their wages garnished is the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back. They are barely making ends meet and now they are forced to figure out a way to do that with less income each month. Unfortunately, this is often the case when a creditor has obtained a judgement and applied to the court for a wage garnishment order.
Wage Garnishment in New Jersey
If you are unable to pay your debts, your creditors will begin calling you and sending you letters regarding the past due payments. This could go on for several months until the creditor decides to put the account into collections. Once a debt collector has the account, the collection efforts usually become much more aggressive with repeated telephone calls to you and to anyone you listed as an additional contact or reference on the original credit application. Even though the Fair Debt collection Practices Act (FDCPA) limits the tactics used by debt collectors, some debt collectors push the limits by threatening individuals with various actions. One action a creditor may take to collect a debt is the process to obtain a wage garnishment order.
In New Jersey, a creditor can obtain a wage garnishment order by turning the unsecured debt into a judgment. The creditor begins by filing a lawsuit asking the court for a monetary judgment in the amount you owe the creditor. If you fail to respond to the complaint, the creditor will ask the court to grant a default judgment. Even if you do respond to the complaint, unless you can prove that you do not owe the debt, the court will likely rule in favor of the creditor and grant a judgment.
Turning a Judgment into a Wage Garnishment
Once the judgment is granted for the creditor, the creditor can ask the court for a Writ of Execution to allow for a wage garnishment. Under New Jersey wage garnishment laws (N.J.S.A 2A:17-56), if you earn more than 250% of the federal poverty level, the wage garnishment could be as high as 25% of your income. For a person who is trying his or her best to survive from paycheck to paycheck, this can be devastating. Furthermore, if another creditor obtains a wage garnishment order, your wages will be garnished for that debt as soon as the other debt is paid in full. Depending on how many of your creditors decide to seek wage garnishment orders, your wages could potentially be garnished for years.
Bankruptcy Stops Wage Garnishment
Filing bankruptcy stops wage garnishments. The automatic stay protects the debtor’s wages from being garnished after the bankruptcy is filed. In most cases, the debt that caused the wage garnishment will be discharged in the bankruptcy; therefore, the bankruptcy not only stops the wage garnishment it prevents the creditor from trying to collect the debt in the future. Bankruptcy keeps your income in your pocket where it is needed.
Contact an Experienced Mount Holly Bankruptcy Attorney
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The Law Office of Travis J. Richards, LLC is a full-service Mount Holly bankruptcy law firm focused on Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, debt consolidation, credit repair, tax liens, student loans and foreclosure. We represent clients in Burlington County and throughout South Jersey.
Contact our office at 609-267-5297 to schedule your free consultation to discuss bankruptcy and non-bankruptcy alternatives. You may also use our convenient online contact form and one of our friendly, professional staff members will contact you to answer your bankruptcy questions and/or schedule a free consultation with Travis J. Richards.
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