Filing for bankruptcy immediately protects you from creditors, who may be making all efforts to take the little you have left. Section 362 of the Bankruptcy Code provides automatic protection against wage garnishment as well as all other types of collection activities, except for obligations geared to domestic support. Your employer cannot withhold your earnings if you file for bankruptcy in time.
The protection provided by the law is known as Automatic Stay. Although the protection is supposed to be automatic, it will take extra effort by a lawyer to stop wage garnishment. Stopping wage garnishment usually takes long because of bureaucratic tendencies. You have to involve the judgment creditor, human resource department, levying officer in the county sheriff office and sometimes a payroll administrator from your employer.
The judgment creditor cannot do much as he is just to request the sheriff to tell the employer to stop withholding earnings. Sometimes the sheriff’s office can take a number of days before communicating to the employer. In some counties, only one levying officer is charged with bankruptcy duties, which make work harder than if they were a team. These are some of the reasons why Automatic Stay protection is in most cases not automatic. In a perfect setting, the employer would not withhold even a single dollar in the next paycheck as soon as the order is served.
Some human resource departments may intentionally refuse to cooperate with the aim of driving suspension of wage garnishment. Bankruptcy lawyers will do their best to notify employers and sheriffs about bankruptcy filings as soon as the case is filed. The attorneys work extra hard to convince county personnel to concentrate on their clients’ cases so that no wages will be garnished. Working with expert bankruptcy attorneys often leads to good results.