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Stop Wage Garnishment in West Virginia

Dena Standley | July 12, 2023

Edited by Hannah Locklear

Summary: Wage garnishment is the last resort creditors use to get their money from debtors. Despite having this option, West Virginia garnishment laws still make the process more favorable to the consumer, limiting garnishment amounts to 20% of a consumer’s disposable income. Luckily, there are ways to prevent garnishment in West Virginia and stop it once it’s already happened.

Experiencing wage garnishment can be devastating, especially if you already struggle with other debts or responsibilities. The garnishment can significantly reduce your take-home pay, making it harder to pay for necessities like rent, utilities, and groceries.

Excessive wage garnishment can have long-term consequences, such as damage to credit scores and difficulty obtaining a loan in the future. Additionally, it can create stress and anxiety for you, affecting your overall well-being.

Fortunately, Virginia provides ways to stop wage garnishment. You can object to the garnishment order, file a claim of exemption, negotiate a payment plan with the creditor, or file for bankruptcy. This article will explain these options. Before we dive into the discussion, let's look at West Virginia wage garnishment laws.

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West Virginia wage garnishment laws

Wage garnishment laws in West Virginia are governed by state laws WV Code § 46A and federal laws 15 U.S. Code Subchapter II. Let's look at a few to show how West Virginia protects your rights.

According to WV Code §46A-2-130, the maximum amount a creditor can take through wage garnishment is 20% of your weekly disposable earnings or an amount that surpasses fifty times the federal minimum hourly rate ($7.25/hr).

Let’s look at an example of how West Virginia wage garnishment works to illustrate.

Example: Cindy lives in West Virginia and owes Virginia Express $3,500 in credit card debt, and they plan to get their money through garnishment. Her weekly take-home pay is $800 after taxes and deductions. In the calculations, 20% of 800 is $160, while 50 times the federal hourly rate of $7.25 is $362.50. Therefore, VE can only garnish the lesser of the two, which is $160. If the order has a higher figure, Cindy can object to the garnishment or file a claim of exemption.

If you have multiple garnishments, West Virginia law prioritizes them in a specific order. Child or spousal support takes first place. Next, garnishments for taxes, federal student loans, and other crucial debts. Finally, consumer credit debts—based on the date served.

West Virginia law also protects consumers who are considered head of their household or providing more than half the support for a dependent. In such cases, the court may reduce the garnishment amount to ensure they can meet their basic living expenses.

In West Virginia, debt collectors must notify you of the amount of debt owed before a garnishment occurs. The notice should specify that you have the right to a hearing to dispute the debt or request a reduction in the garnishment amount.

Finally, WV Code § 46A-2-131 prohibits employers from retaliating against you for having your wages garnished. Consequently, an employer cannot terminate, demote, or discriminate against you because of a wage garnishment order.

With these regulations in mind, you can confidently attempt to stop wage garnishment in West Virginia. Let's look at how to do that.

Stop wage garnishment in West Virginia

To object to wage garnishment in West Virginia, you file a written objection with the court that issued the garnishment order. The objection should clearly state the reason for the request, and you must provide supporting documentation to back up your claim. Examples of reasons you can use include:

  • The debt has already been paid.
  • You’ve agreed on a new repayment plan with the creditor.
  • Incorrect calculation of the garnishment amount. For instance, in Cindy’s case above, if the order comes with a $200 figure, she can object and state that it should not exceed $160 as per West Virginia's state law.
  • The creditor failed to follow proper legal procedures.
  • You are the head of the household and cannot afford the garnishment.
  • Your debt qualifies for exemption (Social Security, disability, and workers' compensation benefits).

WV Code §46A-2-130(3) futher outlines how to object to wage garnishment. You should file a petition stating that the wage garnishment will cause undue hardship to you or your family. The court will consider and potentially reduce the garnishment amount.

File a Claim of Exemption

Filing a claim of exemption in West Virginia allows debtors to protect a portion of their income from garnishment. This provision ensures you are not subjected to unjust or unfair treatment. The following is the legal process you must follow to file a successful exemption claim:

  1. Determine the exemption you qualify for. Examples include financial hardship, government-protected earnings, income below the federal poverty line, and inaccurate debt figures.
  2. Complete a Claim of Exemption and a Financial Statement form.
  3. File the documents with the court that issued the garnishment order.
  4. Serve a copy of the forms to the creditor.
  5. Attend a hearing and argue your position.
  6. Await the court's decision that will either grant or deny your claim.

If the court grants your claim, the income in question will be exempt from garnishment, and the judge will reduce or eliminate the amount being garnished. If it denies your claim, you can appeal or use either of the two methods below.

Avoid wage garnishment through debt settlement

Debt settlement can help you prevent wage garnishment.

In a debt settlement, you offer your creditor a portion of the total amount due, usually at least 60% of the debt’s value. In exchange for a lump-sum payment, the creditor agrees to drop its legal claims against you and release you from the remaining balance.

A creditor often considers negotiating a debt settlement if you promise to make a lump-sum payment and clear the remaining amount within a short period. Because of this, debt settlement usually works best if you have some cash saved or expect to receive some money soon

Settling your debt helps you avoid a judgment and wage garnishment. You’ll save some money and move on from this challenging experience.

If you decide to settle your obligation, you’ll want to ensure you get the terms of your agreement in writing and pay the creditor before your court date. If you’ve never tried debt settlement before, consider working with a professional organization that will guide you through the process.

To learn more about how to settle a debt in West Virginia, check out this video:

SoloSettle, powered by SoloSuit, is a tech-based approach to debt settlement. Our software helps you send and receive settlement offers until you reach an agreement with the collector. Once an agreement is reached, we’ll help you manage the settlement documentation and transfer your payment to the creditor or debt collector, helping you keep your financial information private and secure.

File for bankruptcy

If none of the methods above have worked to stop the garnishment, consider filing for Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy. These options give you a fresh start, but it harms your credit score for ten years.

SoloSuit has helped thousands of debtors avoid bankruptcy by giving them helpful information and reliable documents to file with the debt collector and the court. Explore these resources today, and let us help you manage your debt situation.

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