How do I prevent a creditor from garnishing my wages?

In Minnesota, when a creditor gets a judgment against someone, they have the right under Minnesota law to garnish the wages of the person that owes the debt (the “debtor”).  Garnishing a person’s wages means that the creditor has served an order on the debtor’s employer ordering the employer to withhold 25% of the debtor’s after-tax wages.  Garnishment is incredibly stressful, and often causes other bad financial effects like forcing the debtor to miss payments for other necessary things.

There are several ways to stop or prevent garnishment: First, if the person has received any kind of government assistance based on need (such as medical assistance, Minnesota care, food support, EBT, unemployment) then the debtor’s wages are protected from garnishment and remain protected from garnishment for 6 months after the debtor stops receiving that assistance.  This protection also applies to a person who has been incarcerated within 6 months before the garnishment order is issued.  If this protection applies, the debtor must notify the creditor that their wages are exempt.

Second, it is possible to set up a voluntary repayment agreement with the creditor to pay the creditor a regular monthly payment that is less than the garnishment amount.  This may be a viable option if the debtor has only one debt, and the payments would be manageable.

Third, filing bankruptcy stops a garnishment that is in process immediately after the case is filed, and will protect the debtor from any future garnishments for the debt.  The bankruptcy filing can eliminate the debt and prevent the creditor from ever being able to garnish that person’s wages for that debt ever again.  In some cases, after filing bankruptcy, it is possible to get back some or all of the money that was garnished during the 90 days before the bankruptcy was filed.  Bankruptcy is often the fastest, cheapest, and most certain way to stop and prevent garnishments.

Now that most Covid-19 protections have ended and court backlogs are easing, we are seeing more and more garnishments being put in place.  If you have received notice of a judgment or a possible garnishment, you owe it to yourself and your family to contact us to discuss your situation and get help to prevent garnishments from taking your money.

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