Can you qualify for bankruptcy if your wages are being garnished?

In many cases, yes, you will qualify for bankruptcy protection if your wages are being garnished. At the very least, an automatic stay while the bankruptcy petition is pending should protect your wages. Do note, though, that these stays may not apply if the garnishment is for past-due child support or tax obligations. Stays should apply in cases such as a creditor trying to collect on medical bills or credit card bills. It is important to move as quickly as possible.

However, what happens if the court denies your petition, and the wage garnishment continues? Up to 25 percent of your income is gone, and no matter what the bankruptcy court thinks, it is income you cannot afford to lose.

Object to the garnishment

You can object to the garnishment in court, and the more documents you have proving hardship, the better. For instance, suppose you make $1,500 a month, and the garnishment is 25 percent of that, or $375. However, $1,500 is not what you take home. You have $500 deducted up front for family health insurance and about $150 goes to various taxes. What remains goes toward rent, food and other basics for your family members. That $375 could mean the difference between continuing to live in a safe space versus the streets.

The court might decide on a much lower garnishment amount over a much longer time. If the total you owe that creditor is $2,000, then instead of you paying off the debt in less than a year as you would with 25 percent wage garnishment, the payoff might take several years but be more affordable for you.

Talk with the creditor

It is possible that the court would deny your hardship claim. You still have the option of talking directly with the creditor and explaining your situation. The creditor might not understand or agree to your proposed plan, but it might. 

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New Brighton, MN 55112

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