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Wage Garnishment Attorneys Serving Ventura, Santa Barbara, and Westlake Village

Wage garnishment is a tool that creditors can use to take money from debtors before the money even reaches the debtor’s hands.  If you are struggling with debt and are facing the prospect of a wage garnishment, the debt relief attorneys at Rounds & Sutter may be able to help.  We can negotiate with your creditors on your behalf, stop wage garnishment before it starts, or advise you of your other options for relieving yourself of crippling debt.  Call a Southern California wage garnishment attorney at Rounds & Sutter for advice and representation if you are facing wage garnishment or other aggressive forms of debt collection.

What is Wage Garnishment?

A wage garnishment or wage attachment is an order from a court or government agency.  The order applies to the employer of a debtor and forces the employer to withhold a certain percentage or amount from the debtor’s paycheck and send the funds directly to the creditor.  Wage garnishment is meant for debtors who are unwilling or unable to pay creditors; different forms of debt have different rules and regulations regarding wage garnishment.

When is Wage Garnishment Permitted?

Creditors cannot start with wage garnishment as a first step.  Generally, most creditors must obtain a judgment against you in order to garnish your wages.  That means that most creditors, such as credit card companies, banks, or other service providers such as doctors, must first sue you regarding the debt you owe.  The creditor must first prevail in court before they can obtain a wage attachment.  The debtor, in turn, has the right to contest the creditor’s claims in court.  There are a variety of arguments you may be able to make to reject a creditor’s claims. For example:

  • The party suing has no right to collect
  • The creditor is wrong as to the amount that you owe
  • You already paid the claimed debt
  • Your creditor has not given you the appropriate amount of time to repay the debt, pursuant to the terms of your agreement

Certain creditors may be able to go straight to wage garnishment.  The IRS, for example, does not need a judgment to start garnishing your wages for payment of back taxes.  The IRS will notify you before it begins garnishment, but it does not require a court’s permission to do so.  They will simply inform your employer that they must start withholding a portion of your paycheck.  The IRS will usually send you notices about your back taxes for months before a wage garnishment, however.  If the IRS has notified you that you have overdue tax payments, speak with a California wage garnishment attorney as soon as possible to explore your options and prevent your wages from being attached.

Limitations on Wage Garnishment in California

Regardless of the amount owed or how overdue the debt may be, California does not permit creditors to leave a debtor destitute and unable to earn a wage sufficient to take care of themselves.  No creditor can garnish your entire paycheck.  California law limits how much a creditor can take from the wages of a debtor.

Garnishment is typically limited to 25 percent of your “disposable earnings” or the amount that your disposable income exceeds 40 times California’s state minimum wage, whichever is lower.  California’s current statewide minimum wage is $12 per hour for employers with more than 25 employees and $11 per hour for smaller employers.  For lower-income debtors, the limit may be even lower.  Speak with a California debt relief attorney about the wage garnishments you are facing to find out if you can limit or reduce the garnishment amount.

Get Help from a Southern California Debt Relief Attorney

If you are struggling with debt and facing wage garnishment or other aggressive debt collection efforts, the debt relief attorneys at Rounds & Sutter can help you explore your options and protect your livelihood.  Contact Rounds & Sutter at our offices in Ventura, Santa Barbara, and Westlake Village for a free consultation, and put yourself on the road out of debt.