In Arizona, if a creditor gets a judgment against you, they may be able to garnish your wages. Note that the creditor must FIRST obtain a judgment. That means they would have to go to court and file a lawsuit and win before they could garnish your wages. Assuming that the creditor has gotten a judgment against you, then there are several other factors that determine how much and how long the garnishment can continue.
The Process of Garnishing Wages in Arizona
Once the creditor has a judgment, they can apply for a writ of garnishment through the court. The paperwork gets sent to your employer and to you. The employer has to respond within the given time period. Essentially, the employer has to state whether they pay you wages (or a salary) and how much, how often, etc.
You will also have a right to request a hearing with the court to object to the garnishment. But this won’t usually be an opportunity to re-litigate the case. Instead, the hearing will typically focus more on any hardship factors you have or other reasons why the garnishment amount should be reduced.
How Much of Your Paycheck Can the Creditor Garnish?
Under Arizona law, the creditor can garnish up to 25% of your take home paycheck. Typically, this means your net paycheck, after taxes. And 25% is the maximum amount they can garnish. If you have a serious hardship or other extenuating circumstances, that amount might be reduced by the court.
Also, if you have multiple creditors pursuing you, the maximum is still 25% total. So if you’re already being garnished, then the other creditors will just have to wait in line. Nevertheless, for most people, 25% is an enormous chunk of money to have taken each month. For some, it may be devastating.
Options to Stop Wage Garnishment in Arizona
If your wages are being garnished or about to be, you know how serious it is. Fortunately, there are a few ways to stop a wage garnishment. Some of them may be more appealing than others, depending on your circumstances.
Motion to Set Aside the Judgment
The first option is to challenge the judgment itself and try to get it overturned. This is done by filing a motion to set aside the judgment with the court. However, this is not an easy task. There are many legal considerations and it may not be appropriate in all circumstances. If you think the judgment may be invalid for some reason, it is best to have your situation reviewed by an attorney to see if the judgment can be set aside. If the judgment is set aside, then the garnishment cannot continue.
Settle the Debt
The second option is to negotiate a settlement with the creditor. If a binding settlement is reached, then the garnishment should stop. However, in our experience, when a creditor is garnishing your wages, they may have little incentive to settle. Usually, the best chance of settlement is going to be with an attorney who can articulate possible legal grounds for challenging the judgment or other reasons why the garnishment could be stopped. Our firm can help evaluate your options and determine the chances of settlement and other legal options.
Filing Bankruptcy Stops Wage Garnishment
The filing of a bankruptcy petition immediately stops wage garnishment in Arizona. It is perhaps the most powerful and immediate tool to stop wage garnishment. However, we recognize that bankruptcy isn’t appropriate for everyone. So it is important to have your situation evaluated by an attorney.
Call us for a free consultation if you have wage garnishment issues.