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Writ of Garnishment Leaves Me Unable to Care for My Wife and Kids. What Should I Do?

“Dear Steve,

I was recently delivered a Writ of Garnishment, taking $348 per check to pay back a $6200 personal loan from Springleaf.

I only clear $1000 per check.

My mortgage is $1385 and My car is $375

That doesn’t leave a lot of room for gasoline, natural gas, power, phone, food, clothes, student loans, car insurance, water, and the myriad of other stupid loans (like the $4500 to replace my furnace or the stupid payday loans, and the credit cards). My wife works, but she’s got payday loans, and student loans of her own and thus isn’t very helpful in catching anything up.

I’ve applied for a second job at 8 locations – even though they want me to work nights, I have to interview during the day… rough to take a day off from my job to interview for another. This was BEFORE I got the garnishment notice. Now, if I get a second job I’ll have to work it full time just to TRY to catch up. If I spend all my time working to pay off debts I might as well just stop working and die.

It’s completely morbid, but if I off-myself will my kids and wife be left with the debt? It’s not an option, since I can’t afford the goddamned bullet or pocket-knife even if I had the courage to do it…

I bring home $2k per month after taxes and deductions, and my expenses are around $2500 – that’s just to remain alive in house and home – but now that I’m being garnished $696 per month, I really can’t pay anything. It’s all I can do to keep food in my son and daughter’s tummies…

So what should I do? Bankruptcy? Flee the country? Abandon my family to the in-laws? Knock over a bank? If I had the first clue how, I’d pick up a contract to assassinate someone for a nice payday. It’s bad when you want to kill yourself to avoid your debt, it’s worse when you’ll kill someone else to pay it off.

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In all seriousness… I’m fucked. I can work 80 hours a week and not pay my debts, so why should I stick around? What can I do?”

While it feels hopeless at the moment, it doesn’t have to be. Most likely you both need to file bankruptcy and get the fresh start and second chance you are entitled to under the law.

Leave all the weapons along and just go see a bankruptcy attorney. A bankruptcy for both of you will most likely end the garnishment and payday loans. It will give you the breathing room you need to start over. But don’t waste this experience. Take what you can from it and don’t make those mistakes again.

I’d suggest you first read How to Get Out of Debt. The Honest and Unvarnished Truth and The Truth About The Success Rates, Failure Rates and Completion Rates of Credit Counseling, Debt Settlement, and Bankruptcy. They will give you a great overview of what we need to deal with to get you moving in the right direction.

Then use the free How to Get Out of Debt Calculator to review your options.

Once you’ve identified a company you want to work with, then follow my step-by-step guide on how to check out a debt relief company.

Please post your responses and follow-up messages to me on this in the comments section below.


You are not alone. I'm here to help. There is no need to suffer in silence. We can get through this. Tomorrow can be better than today. Don't give up.

About the author

Steve Rhode

Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.


  • With all due respect to the poster below – Ann avoiding being garnished isn’t as simple as you think. Nor is every story a story of someone who is a deadbeat just looking for a free ride. How about when you have your home owners association come after you for late fees on your HOA dues….even after you’ve begged them repeatedly to work with you on a repayment plan outside of court? Not only did they garnish my wages, but they put a lien on my property. Adding insult to injury, my neighbors, who are board members on my HOA voted to do this to me. The initial “debt” of $1,000 late fees accumulated over 3 years time ballooned into a $6,000 debt once they got their high powered law firm involved. Let’s talk about being screwed for the next year financially shall we? I make $2900 a month and they are taking $700 a month from me. My mortgage is $1340, car payment is $335 and then there’s my other living expenses. I’m a divorced woman living on my own…and have for 17 years. This is what it’s like to be middle class in 2012. What bothers me more when I read posts like this person’s below, who I suspect is a plant from a credit card company. is the lack of compassion I hear constantly. Everyone pointing fingers and acting like we’re all deadbeats. The reality is employers are not keeping up with cost of living increases for us to be able to live within our means, forcing people to rely on credit cards, payday loans, etc. just to survive. Until they are faced with something similar they’ll never be able to walk in our shoes.

  • why would he have to file bankruptcy??? first i would encourage you to stay on top of your debts going forward a garnishment does not happen overnight. Contact the agency responsible for the garnishment and see if you can work out a payment plan with better options. At the end of the day you do owe the money and most often the credit card wants to see you make any effort to make good on it.

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