Wage garnishment in Virginia
Question Details: I have received a notice of wage garnishment from the lawyer that represents the surgical center where I had a surgical procedure done last year. I had previously set up a payment plan (not in writing) and made an intial payment but haven't sent one since. I make just enough money to cover my half of the rent which is $515/mo. Can they take all of the money I earn which isn't even enough to cover other amenties such as food, gas, etc.? Should I contact the lawyers office again to keep from going to court? What options do I have with wage garnishment?
Firstly, the surgical center has to have obtained a court judgment against you before it can even obtain an order for garnishment. If it doesn't have a court judgment against you, it can't garnish your wages.
Secondly, assuming the surgical center legally obtains an order to garnish your wages, there is a limit as to how much of your weekly earnings can be garnished. It's usually around 25%.
Thirdly, it would be wise to try and make payment arrangements and avoid going to court. Taking you to court, getting a judgment, and then getting an order for wage garnishment can be a long process. Usually, the creditor prefers making arrangements in order to avoid the process.
I am not admitted in VA but specialize in this area of law in NY and CT. In general it is always better for you to contact the attorney as opposed to ignoring the demands. If you ignore the demands although I don't know the wage garnishment laws of VA the way it tends to work is at some point you will simply start being garnished. Once that happens most attorneys are less apt to work with you, possibly lower the balance due and help keep payment small.
If you contact the attorney and cannot come to an agreement than you will have to decide how to proceed but its worth a try. I also suggest explaining your situation and seeing if they can work it out. As an aside if they do begin garnishment they cannot take everything each state has a cap. I know NY is 10% and VA I am sure is similar. You also may want to contact a local attorney to help you handle this, help negotiate a settlement and ensure everything is done that can be for you. However the short of it is if you legitimately owe the money they have a right to collect so its best not to ignore it and to address the issue and do your best to settle the matter. Good luck with everything.