It takes a creditor a bit of work to start taking money from your paycheck in St. Louis City
or St. Louis County. First, you must owe a debt. This can be credit card bills, unpaid loans, medical bills, or even property damage claims. The next step is for the creditor to file a lawsuit in Missouri State Court. They will probably file in the county where you live. So, if you live in Florissant, they may take you to court in St. Louis County Circuit Court in Clayton, Missouri. If you don't show up to court, or don't have a reasonable defense for not paying money you owe, the court will enter a judgment. A judgment is an legal order stating that you must pay back a certain amount of money (with a certain amount of interest) to your creditor. However, a judgment by itself doesn't automatically take money from your account and pay the creditor.
In St. Louis city and county, a creditor has the option to ask the court to order your employer to pay the debt out of your paycheck. The creditor may know where you work, or they may ask you formally through court proceedings. Once they know where you are employed, they can then ask to the court to order a wage garnishment. Generally, these are issued by the court or county sheriff, and direct your employer to pay the creditor a portion of your wages. Wage garnishments can be as high as 25% of your income! Luckily, creditors are not allowed to touch Social Security earnings or take a full 25% of wages from individuals who have dependents at home.
Once a wage garnishment begins, your employer will take your money and pay your creditor until they have received all the the money you were ordered to pay (plus interests and fees)! This can be a huge strain on your finances. Without Bankruptcy, you will be paying these creditors until they get all their money! If you have multiple judgments, you could be paying on wage garnishments for a long time!
Luckily, Bankruptcy is an option that will stop wage garnishments upon filing. After you file for Bankruptcy protection, the court (and your attorney) will notify the garnishing creditor that a case was filed. That creditor must then file a Release of Garnishment with the state court. They must also notify your employer to stop the wage deductions from your paycheck. It's not an "instant" process as you see. Several steps must be followed before the garnishment comes off your check, but any funds taken after the filing of a bankruptcy case should be refunded to you as soon as possible. It's also possible to notify the state court of the pending bankruptcy proceedings by filing a "Suggestion of Bankruptcy" that explains that the judgment is now part of Federal proceedings.
It's best to talk to a qualified St. Louis Bankruptcy Lawyer about these matters. They understand the process and can assist with the nitty gritty details of stopping a garnishment in a swift and thorough manner.
Since 1997, the St. Louis attorneys at The Law Office of Tracy A. Brown, P.C., have helped hundreds in Saint Louis stop creditors from harassing, garnishing, and threatening clients through Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy filings that alleviate excessive debt. Contact us today to free your future from your past.