Served with a Garnishment or Levy?

Orange County Lawyers Represent Clients Against Creditors

Picture of a bank building

If you’ve received notice from a creditor seeking to garnish money from your paycheck or freeze your bank account to execute a levy, you need legal help immediately. You may have options to work out the issue before the garnishment or levy attaches. However, if you miss court dates, ignore legal deadlines or otherwise sit on your rights, you will have fewer options to remedy the situation.

Protect your income and your assets. Have the business and real estate attorneys at Orange County Civil Law Associates review your Notice of Garnishment or Levy and any documentation regarding the underlying debt the creditor is trying to collect.

What is Garnishment and Levy?

Garnishment and Levy are two methods of debt collection. Garnishment refers to money being withheld from your employment wages to pay off a debt. Most creditors collecting on private and government student loans, child support, spousal support (alimony), credit card debt and medical debt will attempt to garnish your paycheck.

Levy is when a creditor freezes a bank account and withdraws the money to pay off the debt. Levy of bank accounts is usually attempted by governmental agencies, most commonly the IRS and property tax assessors.

In both cases, creditors must first obtain a legal judgment or court order that clarifies the debt is owed from you to them. Once they have this judgment or court order, creditors will attempt to collect it via garnishment or levy.

Are There Levy or Garnishment Defenses?

The first thing to consider is the legitimacy of the underlying debt the creditor is attempting to collect. In some cases, the debt is not valid or was miscalculated. Some of our clients ignored prior lawsuits regarding the debt and the creditor obtained a default judgment. In those situations, we can explore the possibility of voiding the default judgment.

If the underlying debt is valid, you may be able to negotiate with the creditor to avoid garnishment or levy. This may require paying off the debt or entering into a voluntary payment plan.

If the creditor does not agree to settle the debt via informal methods, there are legal limits on how much the wage garnishment can take out of a paycheck. Our attorneys can review the situation and determine whether the garnishment if fair and lawful, and/or dispute the amount in court.

Another option our attorneys will consider is filing bankruptcy. When a person files a petition for bankruptcy, the automatic stay immediately stops all collection activities, including attempts at garnishment or levy. We can offer legal advice as to whether filing bankruptcy would be your best option.

If you are receiving creditor notices, the worst thing you can do is ignore them. Instead, call or fill out our online form for an appointment to bring the notices to our office for a free consultation and legal advice from our civil lawyers.