What do I do if I am being sued in small claims court but do not have the means to have my wages garnished?

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What do I do if I am being sued in small claims court but do not have the means to have my wages garnished?

I owe my previous landlord money. We had a verbal and written agreement saying that as long as I make an effort to pay each month, there was no reason for a lawsuit. After we verbally agreed and he asked me to send him a letter, I signed it and sent it. Before I even got a chance to make the first payment I got a letter from small claims court. He’d decided to sue me anyway, despite the agreement we had. I do not have the means to have my wages garnished, I can barely make ends meet. What do I do?

Asked on June 29, 2011 under Bankruptcy Law, New Jersey

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If you lose the case and there is a judgment against you, and if the landlord obtains a wage garnishment, you could stop the wage garnishment by filing bankruptcy.  That may not be feasible given the amount in question, but it would be something to consider and would stop the wage garnishment.  It would be premature to file for bankruptcy until there is a judgment against you.

Chapter 7 is straight liquidation.  This type of bankruptcy eliminates your debts.  Your income and other factors will determine whether or not you are eligible to file Chapter 7.  If you are not eligible to file Chapter 7, you can file Chapter 13.  A Chapter 13 bankruptcy sets up a plan (budget) for repayment of your creditors.

When you file bankruptcy, you will need to list all of your creditors. 


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