How Does Wage Garnishment Work in New Jersey?
If you have creditors coming after you to have their debts paid, they may take you to court to try and have you ordered to pay those debts. If you cannot pay right away, the court may order that some of your income be directly given to your creditors. This is a process called wage garnishment. Wage garnishment can have a significant impact on your income and your ability to lead your current lifestyle. Garnished wages may leave you unable to pay some of your current expenses and make your current debt problem even worse.
In New Jersey, wage garnishments stay in place until the debt is paid. This means that if you can pay off the debt, you can avoid wage garnishment. However, another way to stop wage garnishment is to file bankruptcy. Filing bankruptcy stops all debt collection and wage garnishment.
If you are having issues regarding wage garnishment and considering bankruptcy, talk with Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates by calling (609) 755-3115 and get a free case review with our New Jersey bankruptcy lawyers.
What is Wage Garnishment in New Jersey
Wage garnishment is a court order that requires your employer to send a certain portion of your paycheck directly to your creditors. Essentially, you are no longer trusted to pay your debts, so the court will do it for you. The garnishment is in place until your debts are paid.
There are federal protections in place for workers who have their wages garnished. For example, an employer cannot fire you for garnishments based on any single debt. However, if you have garnishments for multiple debts, that protection goes away.
How Wage Garnishment Works in New Jersey
Your wages cannot simply be garnished out of the blue. There are steps that your debtors have to take in order to garnish your wages and then obtain part of your wages to pay off debts. We will go through some of the things creditors must do in order to garnish wages below, but if you believe that your creditors did not follow these laws, you should discuss your situation with our Egg Harbor, NJ bankruptcy lawyers.
In order for debtors to get garnished wages from your employer, they need to obtain a judgment against you from the court. What this means is that your creditors need to go before the court, explain why they deserve the garnish your wages, and then the judge has to agree with them and allow the garnishment.
There are, however, some cases where your wages can be garnished without a court order. Student loans, child support, and unpaid income tax can all be garnished from your wages without a court order.
A wage garnishment will also indicate how much of your wages are being taken to pay the debt. Generally, wage garnishment in New Jersey will take up to 25% of your net salary. This is your salary after your employer has deducted the appropriate tax amounts and other fees. However, the amount can be much higher. For example, garnishments for child support can be up to 50% of your net salary.
While the amount of your salary that can be garnished is quite high, there are some restrictions. The garnishment amount cannot be so high that you are unable to pay monthly expenses like costs of rent or food. Additionally, some forms of income cannot be garnished. For example, military pay to members of the armed forces is exempt from being garnished. That being said, wage garnishment is still a significant dent in your finances, and it can seriously hamper the way you live your life.
Ways to Prevent Wage Garnishment in New Jersey
If your wages may be or are currently being garnished, there are several things you can do to remove or modify the garnishment. Our Cherry Hill Bankruptcy lawyers can figure out the best course of action for your wage garnishment situation.
File for Bankruptcy
One of the fastest ways to stop wage garnishment is to file for bankruptcy. Many plaintiffs will be nervous about filing for bankruptcy because it has a reputation for coming from financial mismanagement or irresponsibility that leaves the filer destitute. That is not true. Bankruptcy is best thought of as a reset button. It is a way to give a debtor breathing room to pay off their debts in a controlled, court-mandated fashion. After bankruptcy proceedings have run their course, you have a clean slate without any debts and are free to go about your life how you see fit.
One of the primary benefits of filing for bankruptcy is something called the “automatic stay.” When you file for bankruptcy, the courts place an automatic stay on any debt collections against you. This means that creditors can make absolutely no attempt whatsoever to collect debts from you while you pay them back over the course of bankruptcy proceedings. Automatic stays are so comprehensive that they even prevent creditors from making soliciting phone calls asking for you to pay their debts.
Wage Garnishment Modification
If you wish to avoid filing for bankruptcy, another option available to you is to request a modification to the wage garnishment. To have a wage garnishment modified, you have to prove in court that you cannot afford your basic expenses with the wage garnishment set at the current amount. If you wish to pursue this path, our lawyers can help you file a motion for reduction so you can better manage paying off debts through wage garnishments.
Talk to a New Jersey Wage Garnishment Lawyer Today
Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates has East Brunswick, NJ bankruptcy lawyers available at (609) 755-3115 to give free analyses of your case today.