Q: I owe someone some money. They sued me and have a judgment. Now I have been served with a wage garnishment. What do I do?
A: Let me start with the basics. Unless someone has a judgment against you, they cannot garnish your wages.
Debt collectors will sometimes tell debtors that they will garnish your wages. They cannot unless they have a judgment.
Once someone gets a judgment, he or she can serve a wage garnishment order on the Sheriff. The Sheriff will then serve your human resources department with the order. Your employer will provide a copy to you, and the garnishment will appear on your next check.
If you receive this and you cannot afford a garnishment, you need to file a claim of exemption. This form is WG-006. You simply fill it out and check the boxes. Really, its not that hard and should not require an attorney.
You then need to file a notice of filing of claim of exemption. This is form WG-008. The judgment creditor is the person to whom you owe the money. You then check the boxes that apply. Again, it should not require an attorney.
Finally, you file WG-026, which is the financial declaration. This is simply a listing of your income and your expenses. Most of the information for your income is on your pay stub, such as taxes. The other information is just your monthly bills.
So, once you fill out these forms, what do you do? For a change, you do NOT file them with the court. Rather, these are sent to the sheriff. In Sacramento, this is the Sheriff’s Department Civil Division. They are locatedat 3341 Power Inn Rd., #313. The website is http://www.sacsheriff.com/organization/correctional_&_court_services/civil.cfm
The sheriff is responsible for serving this on the creditor. If the creditor wants a hearing, he or she has to request one with the court. You will receive notice. A tentative ruling will come out the day before the hearing, and you can find it here: http://tr.saccourt.com/courtrooms/trulings/.
If you dispute the ruling, you have until 4 p.m. the day before the hearing to request oral argument by calling the court and the other side.
And, remember, you can email me your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org