Creditors bring lawsuits in Connecticut State Court to collect their debt through a Court Judgment. Once a creditor has obtained a court order or judgment against you, Connecticut law provides your creditor with a system of specific remedies to further enforce the judgment against you. These remedies include:
- Wage Garnishments
- Bank Executions
- Judgment Liens
What is a Wage Garnishment?
A Wage Garnishment is a court order requiring your employer to withhold a certain amount of your paycheck and send it directly to the creditor or sheriff/marshal until your debt is paid off. This is an involuntary deduction from your paycheck and your employer must comply with the Court Order.
When the Court enters a Court Judgment against you, the court will issue an installment order which will mandate you to make weekly payments. The minimum amount a Judge will order is a weekly payment of $35.00 per week. Modification requests can be made to lower an installment order but the Court will generally not go lower than $35.00 a week. If a Debtor defaults on that Court Order and fails to make any of the weekly installment payments, the creditor may petition the Court for a Wage Garnishment and/or a Bank Execution.
Wage garnishments can be devastating to your ability to maintain your living expenses by substantially reducing your source of income. Wage Garnishment Orders are granted without notice to you. In addition to possible embarrassment, Wage Garnishments cause you to fall further behind on regular important bills, such as mortgage payments, or car payments. Avoiding a wage garnishment is the number one way to ensure you have total control over your income. If you do nothing about a Court Judgment or an Installment Order, you are actually forcing the creditor to seek a Wage Garnishment in order to collect their Court Judgment:
- Wage Garnishment allows the total amount of the Judgment, including attorney fees, sheriff/marshal fees, and interest to be collected in full from your wages;
- Up to 25% of your net income can be garnished each week;
- Only one garnishment at a time can be deducting from your paycheck but multiple garnishments can be stacked up just waiting for the previous garnishment to be paid in full;
Defending and Releasing Wage Garnishments:
Once a Notice of Wage Garnishment is sent to your employer, you need to act quickly as you have only 20 days to apply for a Modification of Wage Garnishment. In order to modify the wage garnishment, you need to file a modification application with the court. The modification application must include the amount of the requested reduction and the reason why the modification is necessary. In order to modify the wage garnishment, you must show that there will be an economic hardship which will prevent you from making your monthly household living expenses. Once an application is received, the Court Clerk will schedule a hearing and you will have to appear in court to explain your position to the judge.
Wage Garnishments can also be stopped by the filing of any Bankruptcy under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. The filing of the bankruptcy will automatically stop any wage garnishment from commencing and or continuing as a levy against your pay. The bankruptcy filing will also address all outstanding obligations and prevent any other creditors from levying your wages.
It is highly recommended that you consult an attorney as soon as your employer receives notice of your Wage Garnishment. An experienced attorney will know the proper paperwork and grounds to file in court to modify the garnishment on your behalf, or file the appropriate bankruptcy paperwork to stop the garnishment altogether.
What is a Bank Execution?
The most common form of a Judicial Attachment is a Bank Execution. A Bank Execution is a Court Judgment empowering a sheriff/marshal to attach and withdraw money from your bank account to satisfy or partially satisfy the Court Judgment. What this means to you is that you can wake up one day and your bank account is completely frozen. The creditor will not give you notice but will serve your bank which must comply with the Court Order. Bank executions can occur on joint accounts even if the other party is not on the debt being collected. Joint accounts can be drained in full regardless of whose money funded the joint account.
Defending and Releasing Bank Executions:
There are a number of technical grounds and tactical measures that can be used to stop a bank execution either in the Connecticut State Court or in the Bankruptcy system but there are time restraints and conditions to those defenses. It is important that you or your lawyer move promptly to prevent seizures of your bank accounts.
- Any bank account holder has only 15 days to file the necessary paperwork to gain an opportunity to prove that the seized funds are protected. If the deadline is missed, the opportunity is gone. There are various defenses available.
- Certain Types of income are not subject to bank execution, as such as: unemployment, social security and others but you need to file legal papers to assert these defenses.
- If the amount of funds in the account that has been seized was less than $1000.00 you can assert a defense and obtain those funds back.
Similar to Wage Garnishments, Bank Executions wreck-havoc on an individual’s finances and often leave you immediately unable to meet basic minimum living expenses.
What is a Judgment Lien?
Judgment Liens allow creditors to take unsecured debts that have become a Court Judgment and secure them in full against any real estate with your name on it as an owner or co-owner.
Defending and Releasing Judgment Liens:
A creditor with a Court Judgment is empowered to place a lien on your property, with no notice to you, as soon as a Court Judgment is rendered. This option is available to all creditors, even if the creditor is also pursuing alternative remedies, like Wage Garnishments or Bank Executions, to collect the same debt. Any creditor with a Court Judgment can record it as a Judgment Lien at the Town Hall and attach it to your real estate. This lien will remain on your property until the judgment is satisfied in its entirety plus all applicable post judgment interest, fees, and costs. This can be detrimental to a homeowner wishing to sell or refinance their property as this lien must be satisfied in order to obtain good clean title to the property. The Judgment Lien creditor can also begin a foreclosure.
Judgments in Connecticut are good for twenty years. The creditor can also file a motion to extend the Judgment period beyond twenty years.
Talk to a Connecticut Lawyer today to find better Debt Relief Solutions
Creditors under Connecticut law have many remedies to collect their debt and without the knowledge and representation of your rights by an experienced and specialized attorney. These remedies can severely impact your financial life and your financial future. Get the assistance you need from the Law Offices of Neil Crane to protect your paycheck, bank accounts and property. Contact us today by filling out our online form or calling us at 203-230-2233.