Wage Garnishment

Massachusetts Bankruptcy Lawyers Anthony Bucacci and Robert Simonian (508)673-9500


Using Chapter 7 Bankruptcy to Stop Wage Garnishment

Filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy will stop most wage garnishments, but there are a few exceptions.

If your wages are being garnished, or you fear they soon will be, filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy will stop the garnishment (also called wage attachment) in most cases. This happens because bankruptcy’s automatic stay prohibits most creditors from continuing with collection actions during your bankruptcy case.

Read on to learn about wage garnishment and how the Chapter 7 automatic stay will put a temporary stop to wage garnishment.

What Is Wage Garnishment?

Most creditors cannot garnish your wages without first suing you in court and getting a money judgment. There are a few exceptions, for example, for student loans, taxes, and child support. But in most cases, including credit card balances, the creditor must file a lawsuit and win.

Once the creditor has a money judgment, it can get an order to garnish your wages from the court. The sheriff or marshall forwards the order to your employer, who then holds back a portion of your wages each pay period and sends that amount to the creditor.

There are limits to how much the employer can garnish from your paycheck each month. And you might be able to protect even more using exemptions. You can learn more by reading about wage garnishment laws.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy and the Automatic Stay

When you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the law immediately begins protecting you from creditors by imposing an automatic stay. The stay prohibits creditors from taking any collection activity against you during your bankruptcy case.

Because wage garnishment is a collection action, wage garnishments must stop once you file for bankruptcy. There are a few exceptions to this prohibition—most notably, child support collections will not be stopped by the automatic stay.

A creditor can ask the bankruptcy court to lift the automatic stay. However, the court is unlikely to lift the stay unless:

  • the creditor has a debt secured by collateral, such as a house or car, and
  • the creditor will lose money if forced to wait until the case ends.
  • Learn more about when the court might lift the automatic stay.

How Will Your Employer Know to Stop the Garnishment?

When you file for bankruptcy, you must provide the court with a list of your creditors and their addresses. The court will notify each creditor that you have filed for bankruptcy. The creditor must then take steps to suspend the wage garnishment.

If you want to speed things along, however, you or your attorney can send a copy of your bankruptcy filing to the creditor. This is a good way to go if you’re filing shortly before the garnishment is scheduled to take place.

Short or No Automatic Stay for Repeat Bankruptcy Filings

If you have a recent bankruptcy in your past, the automatic stay will end after a short period. If that happens, the wage garnishment can continue. Here are the rules:

If you filed for bankruptcy previously and it was dismissed within one year of your current filing, the stay will last for 30 days. You can ask the court (by formal motion) to extend this time. You’ll have to prove that you made your second filing in good faith.
If you previously filed for bankruptcy twice in the past year, the automatic stay won’t kick in at all when you file the third case. But again, you can ask the court to impose the stay.
Essentially, you cannot use serial bankruptcy filings to avoid wage garnishment indefinitely.

What Happens to the Garnishment When Your Bankruptcy Case Ends?
The automatic stay ends when your bankruptcy case ends. However, if your bankruptcy discharges the debt that was the subject of the wage garnishment (which will happen in most situations), then the creditor cannot continue the wage garnishment.

Of course, if your bankruptcy case is dismissed before you receive a discharge, or the particular debt that was the subject of the wage garnishment was not wiped out, then the creditor can continue to garnish your wages.

Talk to a local lawyer to discuss your options to stop wage garnishment with or without bankruptcy.

Source : alllaw.com


When is it Time to File Personal Bankruptcy?

Most people don’t like the idea of filing for bankruptcy, even when debt issues are growing and growing, causing them to lose sleep, affecting their relationships with others and threatening their mental and physical wellbeing. It is common for people in debt to think they just aren’t trying hard enough or that if they can just get that better job or get a particular debt paid off they’ll be in better shape. Meanwhile, past due balances and high interest rates, penalties and fees continue to grow and grow and cause the problem to get worse and worse.

It’s often difficult for people to see that it’s time to file for bankruptcy. People in debt may think of filing bankruptcy as giving up (which is simply not true) or think it’s not bad enough to consider bankruptcy just yet. Often they may be afraid of losing important assets like their home or car which is almost always not true. Often people take advice from family and friends and search the internet for answers and get more and more confused. However, when bankruptcy is in order it’s important to get it done before the situation gets worse. Below is a list of indicators that strongly suggest that bankruptcy should be considered as an option and a consultation with a Massachusetts bankruptcy lawyer may be beneficial.

Indicators that it may be time to file for personal bankruptcy

Financial problems are like an illness or a disease. The more symptoms a debtor suffers the greater likelihood that filing for bankruptcy is in order. It is really no different than going to a doctor when your symptoms start becoming more and more serious. Most individuals and families who can benefit from filing for bankruptcy experience several of the following:

  • The financial hardship keeps getting worse and worse — interest rates and penalty fees and other factors exceed the payments you make and cause your debt load to increase in month rather than decrease
  • Can’t afford payments that will pay off debt within three years (36 months) — if payments are too low, interest rates and penalty fees can keep a debt going on forever so a debtor can’t get out from under it; debtors should be sure to include future interest when calculating how much it will take to pay a debt off in three years
  • Borrowing to make debt payments — this is like trying to put out a fire by throwing gasoline on it, yet many debtors resort to this just to get aggressive creditors to go away even if it’s just temporarily
  • Can’t afford to pay minimum payments on all credit cards, loans and other debts — sometimes it’s not the size of any one debt or the size of the required payment for a single debt but rather the impact of many debts piled together; failure of a debtor to make minimum payments on all his/her debts will cause penalty fees and interest to accrue until the debt load is out of control. Paying on some debts while ignoring others is a strong sign that bankruptcy might be an option
  • Paying debts with retirement funds — the closer a person is to retirement the worse of an idea this is, yet seniors, who can least afford to jeopardize their retirement income, are those most likely to do so to avoid bankruptcy because of the stigma this generation traditionally puts on bankruptcy. Retirement money is protected in bankruptcy for a good reason which is that you will need it someday. Using retirement funds usually on puts a Band-Aid on the situation and only provides temporary relief. The stigma of bankruptcy is all but gone. No one will really know that you filed unless you tell them
  • Others will suffer if situation continues — the more dependants a debtor must provide for, the less they can afford to make payments to credit cards and other unsecured debts rather than save money for emergencies or pay for health insurance; if any single symptom can indicate a need for bankruptcy, this one is it, yet trying to continue making those payments could result in foreclosure or eviction and everyone ends up without a home. When you feel as if you are one financial problem away from disaster you should consider a free consultation with an experienced bankruptcy lawyer
  • Creditor collection calls threaten employment — if a creditor calls to garnish wages for a judgment and upsets your employer, the debtor may be in jeopardy of losing his/her job, which will make it impossible to keep up with any of their debts. It is common for employers to get nervous about your employment at their company if you start receiving collection calls at work. Your employer could look to the person with financial trouble if money or property is missing
  • Other options are not available, practical or helpful — insufficient income, poor credit scores and other factors put options like debt settlement programs, consolidation loans, negotiating with creditors, loan modification, lifestyle changes, or gifts from relatives out of reach, but they should be considered before filing for bankruptcy. People in debt can only cut back so much. When a person in debt starts buying less food and having insufficient insurance on their vehicles to save money it is an indicator that bankruptcy may be an option.
  • Upside down on their home with a second mortgage and/or equity line of credit — many debts secured by real property will survive a foreclosure and the debtor will still owe any remaining balance after the property is sold and proceeds subtracted from the balance; bankruptcy, however, can completely discharge these debts

The Next Step Is To Call A Bankruptcy Attorney For A Free

Anyone who suffers any of the above symptoms, or a combination of 2 or more, should strongly consider filing for bankruptcy. The next step is to consult with an experienced bankruptcy attorney who can help the debtor confirm that bankruptcy is the best solution. If it is, the attorney will file the case in court and notify creditors, which will put a stop to all collection efforts until the bankruptcy process is complete or the bankruptcy court lifts the stay.

In Massachusetts, bankruptcy and debt solutions attorneys Robert Simonian and Anthony Bucacci can assist in identifying the best options and solutions for your situation and put a plan into action that will resolve your debt issues and get you back on your feet. Call our office at 508-673-9500 to schedule a free consultation today or visit us at www.massbklaw.com

All Debts Discharged

Are all of the debts discharged?

Bankruptcy: not all debts discharged. The debts discharged vary under each chapter of the Bankruptcy Code. Section 523(a) of the Code specifically excepts various categories of debts from the discharge granted to individual debtors. Therefore, the debtor must still repay those debts after bankruptcy. Congress has determined that these types of debts are not dischargeable.  Public policy reasons do not allow the discharge of certain debts.  Debts incurred for drunk driving injuries to another is one example.

Chapters 7, 11, 12,  lists 19 categories of debt excepted from discharge. A more limited list of exceptions applies to cases under chapter 13.

Generally speaking, the exceptions to discharge apply automatically if the language prescribed by section 523(a) applies. The most common types of nondischargeable debts are certain types of tax claims, debts not set forth by the debtor on the lists and schedules the debtor must file with the court, debts for spousal or child support or alimony, debts for willful and malicious injuries to person or property, debts to governmental units for fines and penalties, debts for most government funded or guaranteed educational loans or benefit overpayments, debts for personal injury caused by the debtor’s operation of a motor vehicle while intoxicated, debts owed to certain tax-advantaged retirement plans, and debts for certain condominium or cooperative housing fees.

The types of debts described in sections 523(a)(2), (4), and (6).  Obligations obtained by fraud or maliciousness not automatically excepted from discharge. Creditors must ask the court to determine that these debts excepted from discharge. Discharge can apply to the debts listed in sections 523(a)(2), (4), and (6).  Only with the absence of an affirmative request by the creditor and the granting of the request by the court.

A slightly broader discharge of debts is available to a debtor in a chapter 13 case than in a chapter 7 case. Debts dischargeable in a chapter 13, but not in chapter 7.  This includes debts for willful and malicious injury to property, debts incurred to pay non-dischargeable tax obligations.  Also debts arising from property settlements in divorce or separation proceedings. Although a chapter 13 debtor generally receives a discharge only after completing all payments required by the court.  There are some limited circumstances under which the debtor may request the court to grant a “hardship discharge.”  Even though the debtor has failed to complete plan payments.

Such a discharge is available only to a certain debtors.  Failure to complete plan payments is due to circumstances beyond the debtor’s control. The scope of a chapter 13 “hardship discharge” is similar to that in a chapter 7 case. With regards to the types of debts that are excepted from the discharge. A hardship discharge also is available in chapter 12.  Failure to complete plan payments.  If due to “circumstances for which the debtor should not justly be held accountable.”

If you have specific questions please call Bucacci And Simonian at 508-673-9500 or visit our website.

Considering Bankruptcy Undecided or Unsure What To Do ?

Talk To Us About Your Options When Considering Bankruptcy :

Are You Considering Bankruptcy Undecided or Unsure What To Do ? We always tell potential clients to talk to us first to see if bankruptcy is in their best interest. The consultation is always free. Talk with Attorney Robert Simonian or Attorney Anthony Bucacci in private and in total confidentiality for expert bankruptcy advice and to see if filing bankruptcy in Massachusetts is right for you.

We can almost always come up with a solution to your financial problem. We have filed over 10,000 cases in the past 26 years and there are very few scenarios that we have not seen. The law firm Bucacci & Simonian is well known for their hard work, diligence, creativity and problem solving abilities. The law firm Bucacci & Simonian are the bankruptcy attorneys other attorneys come to with difficult cases. Call today to see what we can do for you and what options are available. Many are embarrassed about their financial problems and the situation regarding  bankruptcy. This is simply not true and many famous people have had to file for bankruptcy to get a fresh start.

Why Call Bucacci & Simonian When Considering Bankruptcy Filing :

We are known as one of the best bankruptcy attorneys in Southeastern Massachusetts serving the Bristol County and Plymouth County areas. Please inquire with anyone as to our reputation. Reputation is everything and we are very proud of ours. We have received numerous awards from various agencies and courts including the Bankruptcy Court in Boston, Massachusetts.

Using our knowledge and skill we have had several clients complete their five year Chapter 13 bankruptcy plans where they own their home FREE & CLEAR OF MORTGAGES. We understand how important it is to save clients’ homes from foreclosure, keep their cars from being repossessed and stop creditors from suing them and attaching their wages or attempting to seize their assets. This can be stopped almost instantly and we make every effort to be very available to your clients and can accommodate emergency situations. One of our important cases involved saving a client’s multi-family home.

What to Avoid When Filing Bankruptcy :

Do not attempt to file for bankruptcy on your own. You can make your situation much, much worse. If the bankruptcy petition is not correct you could lose your home, your car or possessions or you could be asked to file a different kind of bankruptcy where you have to make monthly payments when it could have been avoided. If you are not properly represented a bankruptcy trustee may foreclose on your house, allow your car to be repossessed, seize a tax refund or other assets. You could file under the wrong chapter, apply the wrong exemptions, fail to file all of the necessary forms or not understand the significance of important forms.

Protect Yourself:

Considering Bankruptcy Undecided or Unsure What To Do ? Call us today for a free and complete bankruptcy consultation. We can protect you from your creditors and protect your home, cars, jewelry and other assets. Creditors and collection lawyers have a job to do and it may seem that they are heartless and will take anything they can from you. They are represented and you should be too. Call us today. The Federal Bankruptcy Court suggests that seeking the advice of a qualified bankruptcy attorney is strongly recommended.