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The only way a creditor can garnish your wages (or levy your bank account, or put a lien against your property) is by getting a judgement against you in a court of law. That’s the only way they can do it. I realize that creditors will make it seem as if they can just garnish your wages at will. But that’s not the case at all. Below is a brief description of how the process works:
Let’s say you have a credit card that you’ve fallen behind on. And let’s say the creditor is calling you non-stop demanding that you make payment on the debt. They can tell you things like “We will garnish you wages if you don’t pay!!”, but the fact of the matter is that they have to go through a fairly lengthy process before that can ever be accomplished.
Procedurally, the creditor must first sue you in a court of law under a breach of contract theory. That would involve filing a petition with the court, and then you would have to notified by way of a summons. And the primary way in which a summons can be issued is by either a sherrif’s deputy or process server giving it to you personally (or to someone above the age of 18 who accepts service on your behalf).
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Once service of the summons has been processed, a hearing on the matter can be held. That hearing is usually thirty (30) days after the summons is received by you. At that hearing, the court has to rule in the creditor’s favor.
After the creditor has the judgement in their favor, they can then begin the paperwork necessary for the wage garnishment. This mainly involves the Writ of Execution, and sending it to your employer. Once your employer has the Writ in hand, it can begin to process the garnishment (which can take a couple pay periods).
So as you can see, if the creditor is going to garnish your wages, then there is a bit of a process involved. In other words, it’s not as if they can just one day decide to garnish you!! But the best way to learn what your options and rights are is to set an appointment with us! We are ready to help you in your time of need!
The affordable St. Louis bankruptcy attorneys at The Law Office of Jennifer Alter-Rieken have been saving and protecting people’s assets for years. Our goal is to make sure that you keep the assets and property you want, discharge the debts that you want to get rid of, and do it all at an affordable cost to you. All phone conversations and office consultations are free of charge.