I frequently hear the stories of individuals that are struggling to pay their bills and keep food on the table at the same time. They struggle the best they can, with some bills getting paid and others being put off for another day when the choice isn’t paying the bill or putting food on the table.  They struggle like this for some time and then boom – they get hit with a wage garnishment at work and someone starts taking 25% of their wages.  What was a bad situation all the sudden becomes desperate and they finally seek help.  My heart truly goes out to such individuals, but the need for help existed long before the wage garnishment began.

Under Arizona law, a creditor simply cannot begin garnishing your wages because you failed to pay a bill (although some exceptions exist for some federal loans/debts).  However, once you have failed to pay a bill, and if the creditor so desires, the creditor can sue you to get a judgment.  When the creditor sues you, you must be given notice of the lawsuit (although notice comes in many different forms), and only when you do not appear, or you appear and lose, can a judge enter a judgment against you and in favor of the creditor.  Only after a judgment is entered can garnishment be pursed.  So what can you do to get the garnishment stopped if it gets this far?

First, you must determine if the creditor can even garnish your income.  Some forms of income, such as social security and unemployment, cannot be garnished.  If that is all you have, it may be best to simply rest on legal protections (known as exemptions) already in place for your benefit.

If your income is not exempt from garnishment, your options are limited.  Of course, you can simply allow the garnishment to continue until the judgment is paid in full, or you can pay the judgment directly to the creditor.  If these are not options, you can try to enter into a settlement agreement with the creditor, either to take a smaller amount in satisfaction of the debt, allow you to make smaller monthly payments, or both.  However, if your finances simply do not allow for these options, bankruptcy may be the relief you need.

If you are facing any of these problems, consider seeking help before you get garnished.  To schedule a free consultation to find real life solutions to your problems, please feel free to contact bankruptcy attorney Matthew L. White


This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice regarding Wage Garnishment – What Is It?, or any other Bankruptcy matters, please feel free to contact Joel E. Sannes at 480.461.5307, or log on to udallshumway.com,  or contact an attorney in your area. Udall Shumway PLC is located in Mesa, Arizona and is a full service law firm. We assist Individuals, families, businesses, schools and municipalities in Mesa and the Phoenix/East Valley.