Podcast #16: Garnishment – Items Needed And How They Pertain To Their Filing


While the information given in this podcast is instructional, it is not intended to be taken as legal advice for your particular legal or financial situation. The recommendations that we give to one person may not be appropriate to your particular situation. The information contained in these podcasts is also not intended to replace the advice that you would receive from an actual consultation with a competent legal professional practicing in the area of consumer bankruptcy law.


Welcome to Morsebankruptcy.com the podcast. I’m Todd Morse, the owner of Morse Law. In these podcast we tend to take various legal topics related to bankruptcy law and discuss them for a bit. This particular question comes from one of our contact forms visitors to the website that asks this question and these are usually the first enquires that people are making in to bankruptcy to see if that maybe the solutions to their financial situation. This visitor writes

Viewer Question

I need to stop a garnishment ASAP. Need an appointment. He goes on to give us some contact information and the day, very recently that it needs to be done by. He even goes to the trouble of writing in their social security number and everything else and there’s some interesting things brought up here. Now, certainly when a garnishment is about to ready to take your livelihood away especially if you are looking to pay check to pay check I can certainly understand the anxiety caused by that. But I don’t think it is ever an excuse to send someone your social security number that you don’t know extremely well. Even if you do I don’t think that an email would be the most trusted way of doing that. I’m not a computer person but from what I understand this is actually not an infallible or really secured system. It does go to highlight though, just how anxious financial difficulties can make someone. I really don’t think this is the kind of person that if you ask two weeks from now should you send your you social over email they would say yes but this is where we get as human being we start to panic and we do things without thinking them through as far as we normally would.

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Now they seem to understand that you can stop a garnishment by filing a bankruptcy and that is certainly true. However under the new bankruptcy code it isn’t the type of deal where you can simply give somebody your name and birth date, your social and all your identifying information have them slap something together and you just come by sign your name and it’s filled with the court and the garnishment stopped.

We will have to get a series of documents from this person and it’s all gonna depend on what they are doing these days, what their lifestyle like, what they have been doing over the last several months to be sure in possibly even the last several years. At a bare minimum we are gonna have to get two years of taxes if they are filing a chapter 7 anyway. We’re gonna have to research their income for the last six months which usually requires producing six months worth of pay stubs if they are just working as a regular w2 style job and then we’re gonna have to get into their creditor information that is lots of places where you can get a free credit reports. My favorite is annualcreditreport.com. It’s a site government put up several years back now. It allows everybody to pull one free credit report from each of the three credit three credit bureaus, Transunion, Equifax and Experian. You one of those free from each a year.

But there are some types of debts that may not be listed on there more particularly hospitals and doctors almost never report debt to the credit bureau. So if you’ve seen a doctor or been to a hospital in the last year and a half and you don’t happen to have those bills lying around the house handy, you may need to go visit those doctors or hospitals or call them and have them send you copies of those bills so that we can get those creditors properly listed as well.

That’s sort of the whole holy trinity of bankruptcy documentation, taxes, income records and creditor information. We know this person is being garnished so we still want to get a copy of the summons and complaint from the civil suit that gave rise to the garnishment. If this garnishment placed that means there is a writ of garnishment that been issued which would also need to get a copy of that should be available at person’s payroll department if nowhere else and then we also need to sit down and go through a series of question about what they been doing with money and assets over the last several years. Has anything changed hands or have they sold anything? What did they currently have? Are the assets current in their possession meet the exemption law guidelines and therefore those assets are protected from the trustee seizing them. It doesn’t do any good to stop a garnishment that’s gonna take $300 out of your check next Friday if you’re going to lose $10,000 in automobiles by filing the bankruptcy.

So while there is certainly nothing wrong with understanding that you are on a tight time frame and that you do need to get filed quickly. You need to keep it in perspective that you are filing legally binding document under penalties of perjury in federal court and if it’s not done correctly, if it’s not well thought through, well-reasoned and well evidenced it can cause alot more damage than good.

So my advice to this person would be to make the time regardless of work, or what not, talk to the attorneys. See what they can do over the phone with you. See if they stay later in the evenings. We do evening appointment to help facilitate people’s work schedules. Speak to the attorneys and schedules of the attorneys whoever you talking to that day and see if they work with you. Most law firm will find some way to work with your schedule. I know we certainly would bend over backwards to work with people’s schedule because we understand that most people who are filing bankruptcy simply can’t take the time off work and lose the revenue to meet with us. Do what you need to do to not only to get the bankruptcy job done but get it done right. Take the time to meet with the attorney. Fill out all of their questionnaires. Answer all their questions honestly and as completely as possible because those answers are going to be the things that can protect you more than anything.

Once you figure out the full picture exactly what your situation looks like, what your assets look like, produce the documentation. Don’t put yourself in a position where you filed the bankruptcy with a bare minimum and now you are scrambling around trying to beat some deadlines that have no margin for error anymore. In general they wouldn’t let you file like that anyway.

So if you are facing a garnishment everybody understands that you’re anxious and you’re nervous and you are worried about getting filed as quickly as possible. But if you’re going do it, if you’re going to file a document in federal court, do at the right way. Sit down, let the attorney calmly take you through some questions, figure out what’s going on, figure out exactly what documentation you need, produce the documentation, write a quality bankruptcy petition, review it, understand thoroughly what it is that you are signing under a penalty of perjury and then file the bankruptcy, stop the garnishment and get on to the next hopefully a better chapter in your life. So, bad situation but still raises a lot of interesting bankruptcy issues and for that reason a good question.


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