There are many different reasons why your bank account may be garnished, such as if you owe child support and student loans. When your bank account is garnished without your knowledge, it can be a terrifying and a stressful experience, no matter which way you look at it. Let’s say you are going about your daily business, running errands, and all of a sudden your debit card is denied for a simple purchase of items needed for your household. You immediately call your bank, only to be told that you are overdrawn because a creditor has garnished your bank account. So, what do you do now? Many people mistakenly believe they have no options and that attempting to retrieve the money is a lost cause. Not so fast. If you act quickly, you may be able to recover some or all of those funds. With the help of a knowledgeable bankruptcy attorney, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the creditor, institution, or other entity who had your wages garnished. Due to the complicated nature of this process, it is imperative that you have a lawyer who understands the bankruptcy laws and what can be done in this type of situation.
Here is a look at the garnishment process as well as a few of the options that may be available to you, should you find yourself in the unpleasant scenario of a garnished bank account:
You’ve Stopped Paying a Creditor
In most cases, the event that gets the garnishment process rolling, so to speak, is when you have stopped paying a creditor, and in response, the creditor goes to court and wins a case against you. Garnishments are also known as bank levies and most commonly begin with a lawsuit against you in which a court determines that you were responsible to pay a debt and failed to do so.
Writ of Garnishment
Once the court has ruled that you were at-fault and that the creditor has the right to garnish your bank account, the creditor serves your bank with a legal document known as a Writ of Garnishment. As soon as the bank receives this document, they freeze any money in your accounts and get ready to turn it over to the creditor. In most cases, the bank will freeze money in any account that your name is on, even if the money is not really yours (such as business accounts and those with your children).
Claim of Exemption
As soon as your account is frozen, your bank will likely notify you and the creditor will serve you with the writ. You will then have 10 days from the time you are served to file a Claim of Exemption. This claim is your only real hope of getting those funds back, and this is where we come in. A bankruptcy attorney will be able to help you with this process by essentially informing the court that the funds that were in your bank at the time of the garnishment were protected. This is quite complicated, in large part because there are a handful of different exemptions, depending on the source of the money in your account.
Another option that may provide you with a chance of getting your funds back is to file bankruptcy before the funds have been transferred to the creditor. Because you likely only have 10 days before the funds are gone, it is imperative that you are proactive and contact an Oklahoma bankruptcy attorney right away. To learn more about wage garnishments or bankruptcy in general, do not hesitate to contact our Oklahoma law firm.