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Wage Garnishment Laws in Massachusetts

Massachusetts Bankruptcy Attorney Helping You Stop Wage Garnishment

Wage garnishment occurs when a creditor forces you to make payments on your debt by having it withheld from your paycheck. This occurs after the creditor obtains a wage garnishment order, which then requires your employer to take a certain percentage or amount of your wages and give it to the creditor. Creditors typically cannot get wage garnishment orders until they have first obtained court judgments that formally establish that the debtor owes the creditor money. There are some debt cases in which a court judgment is not required, such as when the debt is for student loans that have defaulted, taxes that have gone unpaid, child support, etc.

Wage garnishment can cause a great amount of hardship, especially for individuals who are already experiencing financial troubles. One option for relief that you may want to consider is bankruptcy. When you file for bankruptcy, you can usually put a stop to your wage garnishment while you are undergoing your bankruptcy proceedings, which gives you time to get your debt discharged or under control. At Glenn F. Russell, Jr. & Associates, P.C., our Massachusetts bankruptcy attorney can sit down with you and discuss the option of bankruptcy with you, as well as other possible forms of debt relief.

Wage Garnishment Restrictions in Massachusetts

Creditors can only take out a certain percentage of a debtor's wages through wage garnishment. According to Massachusetts General Laws 246 §28, the amount of wages that cannot be collected through garnishment is either 85% of the debtor's gross wages or 50 times the state's hourly minimum wage per week. (The state's hourly minimum wage is used in these calculations since it is higher than the federal minimum hourly wage.) This means that in many cases in Massachusetts, wage garnishment is capped at 15% of your gross wages (or your wages before taxes are taken out), though there are situations in which more can be taken out of someone's paycheck.

Relief Through an Automatic Stay

When debtors file for bankruptcy, they can usually get automatic stays placed on debt collection efforts that are being carried out against them. This includes wage garnishment, creditor lawsuits, repossession of property and more. The automatic stay remains in place while the bankruptcy is ongoing. By the time the stay is lifted, most individuals have been able to have their debt either discharged or paid off, which then eliminates the need for wage garnishment.

Because bankruptcy is very complex, it is important for you to talk to an attorney so that you can determine if this is the best option for you. We can also help you learn about various alternatives to bankruptcy. Contact us so we can provide you with sound legal guidance!