What can i do about a garnishment?
What is a garnishment?
A garnishment is a way for a creditor who has a judgment against you to collect the judgment if you do not voluntarily pay it. A garnishment allows a creditor to take money out of your employment wages or your checking account to pay your debt. A creditor MUST have a judgment against you before it can get a garnishment. There are two basic limits on the amount creditors can take from your wages. First, they cannot take more than 25% of your take-home pay. Second, a creditor must leave you with at least $217.50 a week or $870 a month in net (take-home) pay. Therefore, if you are working part-time at low wages, the creditor will not be able to garnish a full 25%.
Is there anything I can do to stop the garnishment?
Exempt funds or income.
In Oklahoma, there are some types of money that are protected from garnishment by a creditor such as social security.
This page has a list of those types of income.
You can also file for bankruptcy to discharge the debt.
One at a time (except if one of the garnishments is child support).
You are protected from multiple garnishments. You can only be paying on one garnishment at a time. This kind of exemption is claimed as an "undue hardship."
You can apply for an "undue hardship" exemption" if you have a family to support.
An "undue hardship" exemption is where the court decides that all of your money must go to support your family and you do not have anything left over to pay the creditor. You must have a family or dependents that depend on your income to live before you can ask for an undue hardship exemption.
What do I do to ask for an "undue hardship" exemption?
Time is VERY IMPORTANT when you ask for a hardship exemption. YOU MUST ASK FOR THE EXEMPTION WITHIN 5 (FIVE) DAYS FROM THE DATE THAT YOU RECEIVE YOUR GARNISHMENT NOTICE!!
This is done by filing the Claim for Exemption and Request for Hearing form with the Court Clerk.
What if it has been more than five (5) days since I received the Garnishment Notice?
You can file this form after the five (5) days but you have to change the wording from a CLAIM to a MOTION for Exemption and Request for Hearing.
You can write through the word "CLAIM" in the title of the court form and write in the word 'MOTION"
You may have to pay a filing fee for a Motion. The Claim form is free if you file within the five (5) days
Getting the form
Employer or bank
Your employer or the bank, should receive a form called "Claim For Exemption and Request For Hearing" with the notice of the garnishment. Your employer should give YOU this form. This is the form you will use to ask the court for your hardship exemption.
If your employer does not get this form, you can get one at the courthouse.
Fill the form out.
You will need to know your case number and the name of the case.
Check the box that says you are asking for an exemption because of undue hardship, or one of the other exemptions listed on this page.
You will also need the name and address of the creditor's attorney. This is on the notice you received or on the paper titled Garnishment Affidavit.
Worksheet for income and expenses
You will also need to fill out an "Income and Expense Worksheet" to take with you to your hearing.
You can open the one at this link to print or get one from the court clerk. You will need to take the completed worksheet to your hearing.
File the forms
Take copies of the form and then file the original with the court clerk.
The court clerk will give you a time and a date for a hearing on your hardship exemption request.
You will also need to bring any proof of your income and expenses such as pay stubs, rent receipts, utility bills, car payment coupons. Bring proof only for your basic living necessities. The judge will not consider any other debts to creditors who do not have judgments against you. If the judge gives you an exemption, it may only be good for a short period of time and you may have to apply for another exemption in the future.