Many people run into financial problems and can’t pay their creditors. Often these debts end in a wage garnishment. Last week we looked at Canada Revenue Agency wage garnishments, so this week we thought we’d explore what it means when you are faced with having wages garnished by a creditor other than the CRA.
When you have a debt that you have continually had trouble paying down, failing to meet even the monthly minimum payments month in and month out, your creditors will quickly tire of this and will eventually take enforcement action in an attempt to get their money. Sure, if you can’t pay, you can’t pay – your creditors can’t draw blood from a stone – but that doesn’t mean they won’t try!
If your creditor has no security on your loan, they can do one of two things to try and get what they are owed:
• Sue you in Small Claims Court
• Send your file to a 3rd party collection agency for collection – they can in turn sue you in Small Claims Court.
Remember – aside from the CRA, a creditor cannot garnish your wages without a court order, so Small Claims Court is a necessary first step.
If you are sued in the Ontario Small Claims court, your creditor has to serve the papers on you. Once you have received the papers, you have 2 options as far as filing a Defense (and only 40 days to do so):
a. If you file a Defense a date is scheduled for you to make a settlement and repayment terms with your creditor. If a settlement is reached, as long as you don’t breach the terms, the matter is settled. If you breach the terms the creditor can get a default judgment against you. If you don’t make a settlement the matter will proceed to trial; it should be said that most disputes are settled at the pre-trial settlement conference.
b. If you don’t file a Defense, the creditor can obtain Default Judgment against you. Once they have this, they can file a Notice of Garnishment with the Ontario Small Claims Court and also send it to your employer. The maximum wage garnishment from the Ontario Small Claims Court is 20% of your earnings. Your employer must then begin remitting the specified percentage of your income to the court. The court holds the money for 30 days and then sends the money to your creditor.
If your wages are being garnished because of a Small Claims Court wage garnishment, and you can’t make ends meet, there are only 2 ways to reduce or stop a Small Claims Court wage garnishment.
1. File a motion with the Ontario Small Claims Court – include and present your financial information and ask the judge to reduce the percentage of the garnishment or mediate a voluntary payment plan that you can afford with the other side. You may need a paralegal to do this as it will involve completing court forms and attending a court date.
2. Speak to a financial restructuring professional – this could involve discussing options such as a consumer proposal, which will immediately stop a wage garnishment imposed through the Ontario Small Claims Court.
If your wages are being garnished and you don’t know what to do, DebtCare can help. We have the resources to help you pay off those debts and get you back on strong financial footing. Call us today at 1-888-890-0888.