Stop Garnishment in Decatur, Georgia
A bankruptcy attorney can assist you if you have been garnished in Dekalb court or any other Atlanta metro court. Like all collections activities, garnishments can be halted by a bankruptcy filing. As discussed in our automatic bankruptcy stay section, the filing of a bankruptcy case, whether it be a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13 case, triggers what is known as a stay that prevents creditors from taking any actions to collect money.
The bankruptcy stay applies to bank and wage garnishments. Thus, when you file bankruptcy, any creditor who has garnished your bank account or wages must stop the proceeding. Often the state court, whether it be Dekalb county state court or another Atlanta metro county court, will issue an order placing a hold on the garnishment proceeding pending the finalization of the bankruptcy. If the creditor has just garnished your wages or bank account shortly before you filed bankruptcy, it is likely that you will be able to recover the funds back.
If you have already been garnished, that means that the creditor sued you in the past and obtained a judgment against you. The creditor took that judgment, or the order from the court stating that you owed the creditor a certain amount of money. The judgment can be used to file a garnishment suit asking your employer to withhold up to 25% of your net income per pay period or asking your bank to garnish up the amount of the judgment from your bank account.
You can dispute the garnishment if you can prove that it is invalid because the judgment is faulty for some reason. Such a dispute is filed with the state court and known as a traverse. It is rare that a traverse is successful, but bankruptcy definitely stops the garnishment. Other defenses to a garnishment include the wrongful garnishment of social security income or of a bank account where there is no judgment against the co-owner whose money is in a joint bank account with a judgment debtor.
Often, when a debtor already has a garnishment, that means that there is also a lien or a Fifa against the debtor. That lien is recorded in the county in which the debtor resides and attaches to all personal property that the debtor owns. Although most creditors will not try to sell your personal property, such as a car or any household items, if you own real estate, the lien prevents you from selling the house without satisfying the judgment owned by the creditor.
Filing bankruptcy wipes out the judgment lien or the Fifa if you do not own any property that is unprotected by bankruptcy exemptions. Bankruptcy exemptions are provided by Georgia law and allow you to keep that property in a bankruptcy case; thus, the theory of wiping out the judgment lien is based on the fact that you have certain exemptions or protections for property when you file bankruptcy.
In essence, bankruptcy protects debtor from garnishment by creating a court order preventing creditors from continuing with the taking of a debtor’s bank account or income. There are other methods of fighting a garnishment, but they rarely succeed. Further, bankruptcy gets rid of the liens associated with judgments.
Bankruptcy and garnishment law is complex and need the guidance of a bankruptcy attorney. If you wish to schedule a free consultation with a Decatur bankruptcy attorney, please call Law Offices of Charles Clapp at 404.585.0040.