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How do I stop wage garnishments that I cannot afford? I'm being garnished so bad that i can't afford a lawyer to fight it.

Rochester, NY |

I went bankrupt a few years ago. My son's tuition payments were part of the bankruptcy, and i was deemed no longer responsible for them. Now, years later, I've been told that they shouldn't have been cleared by the bankruptcy, and they are garnishing my paycheck 15%.

To borrow all the money for various lawyer fees over the past few years, I've accumulated nearly 10k in personal debt through my boss (the owner of the company) that I'm trying to pay back (he is garnishing my paycheck on the side). So, even though on paper while my gross income is good, I can't even afford to live anymore due to this recent garnishment. I have no money to hire a lawyer to fight it. I have no idea what I should do. Please, any guidance anyone can provide would be extremely helpful. Thank you in advance.

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Attorney answers 3


Filing bankruptcy immediately stops garnishments. You should contact a local bankruptcy attorney today.

My answer is for only informational purposes and is not legal advice. I am licensed to practice law in Oregon and I recommend contacting a local attorney for the best help with your legal questions.



What if i can't afford a lawyer? Are their any free options?

Tom Arany

Tom Arany


Contact local legal services. I participate in a local pro bono bankruptcy clinic to help low income debtors, and there is probably a similar service offered somewhere in Rochester.



Thank you so much for your help, greatly appreciated.


In your question you say: "my son's tuition payments were part of the bankruptcy" if that statement is literally true then you are being garnished illegally because tuition payments would have been discharged in a bankruptcy. However, if you didn't really mean tuition payments, but rather a guaranteed student loans, then that is probably not dischargeable and you may be stuck paying them. I think it is very important for you to have someone review your prior bankruptcy paperwork and this judgement that is garnishing your paycheck to determine if everything is proper. Keep in mind that you have one year to vacate (dismiss) any order of garnishment, so you don't want to delay.

By the way, if you are being garnished illegally because the debt was previously discharged in a bankruptcy, some attorneys will take that type of case on contingency, because they are guaranteed to recover attorneys fees as a result of the illegal garnishment.

Finally, you should know that it is illegal for your pay to be garnished more than 10% of your gross periodic pay. Anything in excess of that 10% (including the amount by your boss) is illegal and must stop until the first garnishment is paid off.

Good luck,


You really need to talk to an attorney about your son's tution payments (I am assuming you were a co-signer on his student loans). In order to get out of repaying student loan payments, you need to have a hearing in the bankruptcy case that establishes that repaying the loans would create an undue hardship (this is very difficult to show - e.g., I have a debilitating medical condition). Also, you should talk to your son about repaying his own tution payments.

There are legal limits on how much a creditor can garnish from your wages in New York (both State and Federal law). Under the Federal Law, the most a creditor can garnish is 25% of your disposable income per week if your income is below 30 times the federal minimum wage. 15 U.S.C. section 1673. Under New York law, the most creditors can garnish is 10% of your gross income (unless its for alamony or child support then its 25%). In New York, the garnishment is limited to the lower amount of the Federal or State law (whichever is less).

You can always try to contact various agencies that provide pro bono legal service. The availability of these services usually depends on income level. You should try:

Law Assistance of Western New York
19 West Main Street, 4th Floor
Rochester, NY 14614

Empire Justice Center
1 West Main Street, Suite 200
Rochester, NY 14614

Volunteer Legal Services Project of Monroe County, Inc.
1 West Main St., 5th Floor
Rochester, NY 14614

Good luck.

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