How to Stop a Garnishment in Georgia: Questions Answered
Is your pay check or bank account being garnished by a creditor? Let CMC Law answer your garnishment in Georgia questions before it’s too late. You have a limited amount of time to stop the garnishment before the money is taken from you.
In Georgia, your options for disputing the legality of the garnishment are limited. However, there are a few solutions that will resolve your problems.
Bankruptcy in Georgia
Many folks wish to use bankruptcy as a last resort when they receive a garnishment notice. However, bankruptcy automatically stops a garnishment with almost zero questions asked. Filing a bankruptcy case initiates what is known as a “stay.” The stay prevents creditors from taking any actions against a debtor, including garnishments. The minute you file a bankruptcy case and get a case number, the creditor is required to release the garnishment of wages or bank funds. Evaluating whether you should file bankruptcy chapter 7 or 13, or look at other alternatives, requires a look at your overall financial circumstances. Thus, it is important to contact a bankruptcy attorney who is licensed in Georgia. S/he can assist you with determining what the best option is for you when a garnishment is filed against you.
Stop a Garnishment in Georgia
File a Traverse Against the Garnishment
One way of succeeding in a traverse is showing that the underlying judgment upon which the garnishment is based is invalid or void. Social security income cannot be garnished. Also, joint accounts where the money does not belong to the debtor cannot be garnished. Therefore, a garnishment can be traversed. To understand what that means, you have to understand how a garnishment is successfully filed.
Debt Settlement of the Judgment and Garnishment in Georgia
If you do not have the time and money to traverse a garnishment, then you may have better luck settling the debt. Debt settlement at the garnishment stage is more successful if you offer a one-time lump sum to settle the debt. Depending on your financial circumstances and the facts of your case, you may be able to settle the debt for as little as 1/3 of the total amount of the judgment. Were you not served with the lawsuit and can prove it? For example, a lease showing you lived elsewhere at the time, you may be able to use that to show the creditor you could win a traverse. Although, in the interest of saving time and money, you would rather settle the debt. If the creditor accepts your offer of settlement, then it will dismiss the garnishment, stop collecting on the account, and cancel any liens against you. If you successfully settle the debt for a lump sum of money less than the total balance of the debt, then you could have received a 1099 for income (cancelled debt) from the creditor.
Garnishment in Georgia Questions: How Does a Creditor Obtain a Judgment?
In order to get to the garnishment stage in Georgia, a creditor must sue the debtor in court first. A creditor can be a credit card company, a collections company, a car or medical creditor, or even an individual to whom you owe money, like an employer. This lawsuit is separate from the garnishment lawsuit. The initial lawsuit seeks a monetary default judgment against the debtor; the judgment is an order from a judge stating that a debtor owes the creditor a specific amount of money. In Georgia, the lawsuit must be served upon the debtor personally or upon a person living with the debtor who is of age by a sheriff or a process server. If the creditor successfully shows the court that the debtor owes the money, then the judge will issue an order giving the judgment to the creditor. Otherwise, if the debtor does not properly answer the lawsuit, then the judge will give the creditor an automatic judgment.
Garnishment in Georgia Questions: How is a Judgment Void?
A judgment can be void if it was improperly issued. For example, the judgment can be void if the lawsuit was never served upon the debtor. In some instances, the process server or sheriff may serve the wrong person or serve the lawsuit at an address where the debtor never resided. If that is the case, then the debtor may petition the court to reopen the case and present evidence that s/he lived elsewhere or was never served to seek that the court void the judgment. Another way of voiding a judgment is if the debtor was in the military and was deployed at the time the lawsuit was filed. In this case, there is a Soldiers and Sailors Relief Act that requires creditors to make sure that the debtor is not deployed at the time of filing suit. If that is the case, then the debtor can petition the court to vacate the judgment.
Problems do arise with voiding a judgment as a way to stop a garnishment. You have to go backwards into the old lawsuit wherein the creditor originally obtained the judgment first. That is, you must petition the court where the judgment was rendered to reopen the case (costs money). Then you need to go to that court and present evidence that the judgment is void. If you succeed there, then you take that order voiding the judgment into the garnishment case. That’s a lot of time and money–depending on your financial situation, you may not have time and money to reopen a lawsuit in another case before successfully traversing a garnishment. If you do wish to reopen the original lawsuit, the court is still going to allow the garnished funds to be drafted and held in the court registry pending the resolution of the case. That means, if you have cash flow issues, this is not a great option for you.
Wage Garnishment in Georgia
You need more than working with a debt relief agency. The Law Offices of Charles Clapp specialize in garnishment issues in Georgia. We work with garnishees in every Georgia county regarding wages taken for child support, student loans, and more.
Contact CMC Law at any time to consult with a licensed debt attorney. You can call our office in the Atlanta area at 404.585.0040 or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will answer any garnishment in Georgia questions you have, along with anything else you need assistance with.
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