If a creditor is garnishing your wages, you may be able to stop the  garnishment and even get some of your garnished wages back by filing  bankruptcy.  However, certain exceptions apply.

When you file bankruptcy, an automatic stay goes into effect that  prohibits and stops most collection activities by creditors.  This means that wage garnishments are also stopped as long as the bankruptcy stay  is in effect.  If a creditor wants to resume collection efforts, it must ask the court to lift the stay. The court will lift the stay only if  the creditor has a valid reason for doing so. An unsecured creditor such as a credit card company simply wishing to resume a wage garnishment is not a valid reason for the court to lift the stay.

However, the automatic stay does not apply to domestic support obligations  such as child support or alimony.  These are considered priority debts  that are unaffected by the automatic stay and cannot be discharged by  filing bankruptcy.  So if your wages are being garnished to satisfy  domestic support obligations, the garnishment will not stop if you file  bankruptcy.

The automatic stay ends when you receive a discharge, your case is  dismissed without a discharge, or when the court lifts the stay.  If you receive a discharge and the underlying obligation for the wage  garnishment (such as credit card debt) was included in the discharge,  the creditor cannot resume the garnishment to collect the debt after  bankruptcy.  If your case gets dismissed without a discharge, then the  creditor can continue the wage garnishment after dismissal.

If certain conditions are met, you may be able to get back some of  your wages even if they were garnished before bankruptcy. You can  usually get back wages garnished within the 90-day prior to your  bankruptcy filing if they were over $600 in aggregate and you have  enough exemptions to cover them.

If you meet these requirements, you can file a complaint in your  bankruptcy and ask that the creditor return the garnished wages.  If you are represented by an attorney, whether this makes financial sense will depend on how much your attorney will charge for filing the complaint  and the amount of wages you are looking to recover.

When you file bankruptcy, you are required to list all your creditors so they can be notified of the bankruptcy.  However, there is a chance  that creditors may not be alerted in time to put a stop on garnishments  after the case is filed.  If you want to make sure the garnishment stops immediately, you  should give notice of the bankruptcy to the payroll department of your  company.

If a creditor is garnishing your wages, you may be able to stop the  garnishment and even get some of your garnished wages back by filing  bankruptcy.  However, certain exceptions apply.

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