As unemployment numbers continue to climb, and those in power make “suggestions” about things like rent and mortgage payments following the initial months of the COVID-19 crisis without committing the power of the law to back their authority in these matters, times can seem terrifying for tens of thousands of Americans. Your local Prince William County attorney understands, and can assist with concerns about this. On top of it, the $600 additional payment unemployed Americans were receiving ran out as of July 31, and legislators continue to argue about what should happen next. Without a clear plan in place and no backing by anyone in authority, Americans can start to feel depressed, despondent and deeply distressed. Your local attorney is here to help.

Realizing this, many states have taken it upon themselves to work within state-framed legislation to ensure that the situation doesn’t get any worse for so many who feel that they are really between a rock and a very hard place. One effort that is helpful in many places is the suspension of wage garnishments.

Wage garnishment is what happens when you owe a debt that you haven’t been able to repay, and enough time has passed that your creditor has gone to court to get an injunction against you and authorization to garnish your wages. Garnishments can range to any amount of the paycheck the courts authorize within the letter of the law, which typically limits them to a certain percentage. In the state of Virginia, that is 25%. Whatever the garnishment is, it is limited to no greater than 25% of your paycheck, or 60 times the federal minimum wage, whichever is less. While this may still seem unfair, and perhaps a larger amount than you would like, it can be higher in some places, and 20–25% does seem to generally be the normal amount across the board throughout the rest of the country in states which use a percentage as described above as a determining factor. 

That being said, however, in Virginia, all new wage garnishments were suspended between March 16 and June 28. At this time, wage garnishments can be authorized by the courts again, who are going to have a significant backlog of cases. If you’re looking at the possibility of wage garnishment, consider these options:

  • Call the creditor and attempt to work with them directly. They may be willing to make a deal with you if you make the attempt to contact them and show your own willingness to own up to an agreement. They may even reduce your debt, or wipe away or reduce any interest.
  • Attend the court hearing where a decision may be made to garnish your wages to show that you are willing to be responsible for your own actions and see if you can either get the garnishment reduced or the court to order a more lenient sentence, like requiring that the creditor work directly with you to resolve the debt.
  • Object to the garnishment. You can raise an objection in the courts if the garnishment is causing a severe financial hardship. The courthouse that issued the judgment, or your local Prince William County lawyer, will be able to further assist you in pursuing this course of action.
  • Check the laws and exemptions. Some states allow for exemptions in the case of a head of household or if you have child or other support payments. 
  • File for bankruptcy. This is a really big undertaking, it’s costly in myriad ways, and it should absolutely be last in consideration of actions to take. If you cannot get out from under your debts in any other way and your garnishment is causing major financial distress, bankruptcy may be an option for you. A lawyer in an essential resource in this consideration. Do not hesitate to reach out to your local attorneys in Prince William County to further assist you.

If you have any further concerns about wage garnishment for any reason, please contact TATE BYWATER. Your Prince William County lawyers will be happy to assist in any way possible to try to get you the answers you need and the help you deserve. There’s no need to sit any longer in fear and uncertainty. Contact us today.