How to get back wages that were garnished before your bankruptcy was filed

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Written by Upsolve Team.  
Updated May 2, 2020

Summary

In some cases, you may be able to get back some of your garnished wages. If the garnishment occurred 90 days before you filed bankruptcy then you could be entitled to the money they took from your paychecks if you have an exemption you can claim. Read this article to learn more about this possibility.

In some cases, you may be able to get back some of your garnished wages. If the garnishment occurred 90 days before you filed bankruptcy then you could be entitled to the money they took from your paychecks if you have an exemption you can claim.Consider talking to your trustee about whether they think your bankruptcy estate is entitled to the money instead. If not, you can take action to recover the money. You may consider hiring a lawyer to file a lawsuit against the creditor for you. A lawyer will file an adversary proceeding against the creditor for you. An adversary proceeding is a lawsuit within the bankruptcy. You may need to decide if this is cost-effective. Hiring a lawyer to collect the garnished wages may not be worth it if the cost of doing so exceeds what you can get back. In that case, check if your court has a self help center or talk to a legal aid organization in your area.

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What if my trustee says they will recover the garnished wages? 

If you can’t get your garnished wages back the trustee may get back the money that was garnished. In that case, the trustee will divide the money they recovered among all of your unsecured creditors. Unfortunately, you will not receive the recovered funds.

Can my trustee help me recover my wages for myself?

No. The trustee only acts when it's in the best interest of your unsecured creditors. Helping you get back money so you can keep it does not benefit your creditors, so the trustee will not do anything about it.

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