Filing bankruptcy in Virginia to stop garnishment? You have rights.
Many people keep hoping they can avoid filing bankruptcy in Virginia, until they get a garnishment. If filing bankruptcy is a last resort, garnishment tells you that you’ve arrived.
Garnishment law is one of the few places where Virginia law is better for the consumer than most other places. (Well, better than most places that allow garnishments. In North Carolina, for example, they can’t garnish your pay at all. Except for taxes, child support and that kind of thing. )
Virginia garnishment law is better because of the “return date.” In many states, a garnishment starts and just keeps running until they have squeezed the whole debt out of you. If your being garnished for say an $8,000 credit card, that could take a long time. Virginia garnishment law is not like that.
A Virginia garnishment usually runs for six to twelve weeks, and it ends on the return date. (When you first get the garnishment, you might think the return date is the start date. It’s not, it’s the stop date. For more information on garnishments generally, see my website on Virginia garnishment law.)
If you file bankruptcy in Virginia, before that return date, you can get that money back. Everything they have taken during that six to twelve week period comes back to you. (As long as you haven’t used up your $5000 Virginia “homestead exemption.”)
If you need to file bankruptcy in Virginia, but can’t get it done before the return date, here’s what to do. Your lawyers can give you a homestead deed, to record in the county where you live. (There’s a $31.00 filing fee.)
Then you can take the recorded homestead deed to the return date on your garnishment, and get your money back yourself. (More details are here.)
I help two people a month get back their garnished money that way. Then they usually use part of what they get back to pay for filing bankruptcy.
Virginia garnishment law is one of the few areas where Virginia gives rights to the consumer, better than a lot of places.
PS I’m attaching some of the leading cases on this area of the law. My thanks to Linda Jennings, a bankruptcy lawyer in Colonial Heights, for these cases.
In re Wilkinson. In_re_Wilkinson
In re Banks. In Re Banks. WDof VA
Wilson v VA Nat. Bank Wilson vs. VA Nat. Bank
Here’s more info on why filing bankruptcy stops a Virginia garnishment.