Does filing a bankruptcy petition stop wage garnishment? Many who have or have had their wages garnished will eventually find themselves asking this question. The answer is yes. Stopping the garnishment isn’t impossible. It’s not even very difficult. But certain steps must be followed.
- Step 1: Complete the bankruptcy petition and required credit-counseling course.
- Step 2: File the bankruptcy petition and make note of your case number. (The case number confirms your case has been filed).
- Step 3: Obtain the Earnings Withholding Order or EWO from your employer. You most likely received a copy of this notification in the mail, but employers are often the first ones to notify their employees when wages are going to be garnished. You should be able to obtain the EWO from the payroll or human resources department at your place of employment.
- Step 4: The EWO form will have the name of the creditor garnishing your wages listed. Notify the creditor and listed legal representation that you filed for bankruptcy. You should notify them by faxing proof of the bankruptcy filing and the EWO so that they can verify that you filed a bankruptcy petition. While the creditor already has a copy of the EWO, including it along with your proof of bankruptcy will make the process easier and more efficient. You want to make it as easy as possible. In addition to faxing them the EWO and proof of bankruptcy, mail them a copy of the documents by certified mail. In almost every case, the creditor will immediately confirm that you’ve filed for bankruptcy and send notification to the sheriff that the garnishment should be cancelled.
- Step 5: Notify the sheriff as noted on the EWO. The Sheriff has to receive notification from the creditor. The Sheriff will then notify the employer to terminate the garnishment. Your employer will not stop garnishment until notification is received from the Sheriff department. In many cases, this step is where you will experience a delay in the process. The Sheriff’s department in your area may be understaffed. They may be overworked. Or they may be both understaffed and overworked. Regardless of the reason, the notification from the Sheriff’s department to your employer to cease wage garnishment might not arrive immediately. It could take days or weeks or even months. The timing depends upon how quickly the Sheriff’s department responds.
- Step 6: Notify your payroll or HR department that you filed for bankruptcy. Advise them that they should be receiving notification to terminate wage garnishment from the Sheriff’s department soon.
If you are interested in finding out if you might be able to recover any of the funds garnished prior to filing for bankruptcy, contact an experienced southern California bankruptcy attorney. The bankruptcy laws vary by state with different areas providing different protection limits. For additional information, contact the bankruptcy experts at Westgate Law.