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How to Stop Wage Garnishment in California

If you are facing wage garnishment in California then there are several steps you can take to stop the garnishment. In California when a creditor obtains a judgment against and is able to determine who your employer is, they may take steps to garnish your wages. If you owe money from a pay day loan, credit card, personal loan or medical bill, and you do not pay then they may eventually file a lawsuit in court, obtain a judgment and garnish your wages. In California the law allows creditors to garnish 25% of your net income. This is a substantial amount if you are living paycheck to paycheck and may affect your ability to provide for your necessities and your families needs.

What are Your Options If a Creditor Has Served Your Employer with a Wage Garnishment Order?

  1. Call the Creditor - There is nothing lost in trying to talk to the creditor and work out a different arrangement to repay the debt back. If the creditor is open to setting up a payment plan then you can avoid having your wages garnished. Unfortunately this is rarely successful. Some creditors who are understanding may be willing to work with you. Many creditors are for the most part not open to discussing payment arrangements once they have a garnishment order that can collect on the money owed. If you are lucky you may encounter a somewhat open creditor to setting up a payment plan.
  2. File an Exemption - In California you may be able to stop the Wage Garnishment through filing an exemption. You may be able to have the wage garnishment stop or reduce the amount being garnished if you can show that the money is needed to support you or your family. If you can show that the the money is needed to provide for the basic necessities of life then you may be able to stop the garnishment. There are several steps you need to take in order to stop the garnishment through filing a claim of exemptions in California. First you need to:
    • File a Claim of Exemptions Form. The claim of exemptions for for California can be found here:

      California Claims Exemption for Wage Garnishment

    • Fill out a Financial Statement. You must include a financial statement with your Claim of Exemptions. The financial statement details your income and your expenses. The California form can be found here:

      Financial Statement

    You can propose to pay the creditor a certain amount as part of your Claim of Exemptions. If the creditor does not oppose it then you may be able to avoid garnishment and repay the debt based on the proposed amount. IF the creditor opposes the Claim of Exemptions then a hearing will be held in which you will have to prove that garnishing your wages will result in you not being able to provide for you or your families support. At this hearing the judge will decide whether withholding 25% is to much and how much should be withheld from your paycheck.

  3. File for Bankruptcy - You can stop the wage garnishment from proceeding by filing for bankruptcy in California. Most people may see this as a last resort but the truth is that it may be the better option for many people. When you file for bankruptcy there is an automatic stay put in place. The automatic stay prevents the garnishment from continuing. Once the bankruptcy case is filed the sheriff's office will be informed of your filing and they will issue a release to your employer, that will prevent the garnishment from continuing.

    For many filing for bankruptcy to stop a wage garnishment may be the best option. If you have a wage garnishment in place then more than likely your credit is in bad shape already, and filing for bankruptcy is not going to make much difference. Second if you know that truly you cannot afford to pay this debt that you are avoiding the inevitable. Eventually you will have to file and get rid of this liability through bankruptcy. Last, the sooner you file for bankruptcy the sooner you can start rebuilding your credit. Most people who file for bankruptcy can improve their credit to a good level after 2 to 3 years from filing.

There are other options you can also seek to stop wage garnishment such as fighting the judgment obtained based on improper service. If the creditor improperly served you you may be able to temporarily halt the garnishment. Many times these methods are just delaying the inevitable since the creditor will more than likely correct what error was made and proceed with obtaining a judgment against you and garnishing your wages.

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