When an individual is issued a a credit card account they can usually work out a payment plan or settlement with the help of an attorney. However, if they are not able to work out such arrangements a judgment can be entered against them. Once a creditor has a judgment against an individual they can execute that judgment through various means including:
- Wage garnishment;
- Bank account lien; or
- Placing a lien on real property or seizing real property
If a judgment is entered against you and the creditor has started proceedings to collect on the judgment, as the debtor, you still have options depending on how the creditor is seeking to collect.
In the case of wage garnishment, the creditor will send a demand to you 15 to 45 days prior to seeking an order from the court providing the following options:
- Pay the amount due;
- Complete a “Payment to Avoid Garnishment” form and return it to the creditor with the payment, if any, shown due on it; or
- Apply to your local municipal or county court or, if you are not a resident of Ohio, to the municipal or county court in whose jurisdiction your place of employment is located, for the appointment of a trustee to receive the part of your earnings that is not exempt from garnishment. You will also need to notify the court that you have applied for the appointment of a trustee. You will be required to list your creditors, the amount of their claims, the amount due on their claims, and the amount you will pay to your trustee each payday. This amount will be divided among them until the debts are paid off. This can actually work to your advantage as creditors will not be able to garnish your wages.
Additionally, it may be possible to contact the creditor and arrange a payment agreement prior to garnishment or you may qualify for bankruptcy which could, in some cases, prevent garnishment.
In the case of a bank account lien, a court will typically hold a hearing within 12 days of the creditor filing the request or you can request a hearing if you dispute the debt or believe that your funds are exempt based upon the exemptions listed below. If a creditor is successful in obtaining a lien on your account they can garnish funds in excess of $425.00 from your account. In other words, they can take as much money from your account as needed to satisfy the judgment as long as they leave $425.00 in available funds.
In the case of a real property lien, once the creditor files a motion for the attachment of a lien, you can request a hearing within five days after you receive notice of the motion in order to dispute the claim of the creditor.
The law of Ohio and the United States provides that certain benefit payments cannot be taken from you to pay a debt. The following are benefits that cannot be attached or executed upon by a creditor:
- Workers’ compensation benefits;
- Unemployment compensation payments;
- Cash assistance payments under the Ohio works first program;
- Benefits and services under the prevention, retention, and contingency program;
- Disability financial assistance administered by the Ohio department of job and family services;
- Social security benefits;
- Supplemental security income (S.S.I.);
- Veteran’s benefits;
- Black lung benefits;
- Certain pensions.
There may be other benefits not included in the above list that apply in your case. In any case, when a judgment is rendered against you, it is important to contact an attorney to help you navigate the process and determine your rights.