Lowering a NJ Wage Garnishment

A few weeks ago a client who had been sued by Pressler and Pressler contacted me about a wage garnishment case. He had defaulted ages ago on a debt collection suit that was filed against him, and it was beyond the timelines in which I could file a successful Motion to Vacate the Default Judgement in the NJ Special Civil part.  (Note, a Motion to Vacate Default is a pleading which asks the Court to set aside the plaintiff’s default judgment against you, and allow you to file an answer to the Complaint and litigate the case on the merits. The longer one waits to file a Motion to Vacate, the less likely it is that the Court will grant this request).

My client had recently been sent a Wage Execution form by Pressler and Pressler, and was understandably upset, as he was about to have 10% of his weekly gross (i.e, pre-tax) pay withheld, until the amount of the judgement had been satisfied. Ten percent of my client’s gross weekly pay came to $125.00 which would have left him short of what he needed to pay his other bills.

After hiring me, I immediately had the client prepare a written ledger for me which showed all of his monthly expenses (i.e, groceries, rent, health insurance, electric & water bills, car insurance, etc). I then drafted a written objection to the wage garnishment in which I asked the Court to lower the wage garnishment from 10% to 2.5%, and filed the objection with the Court and served the Notice of Objection upon Pressler and Pressler.

The Court quickly set a hearing date, where the judge would listen to oral argument from all sides and decide whether or not to lower the garnishment amount.

Within a few days, Pressler filed with the NJ Special Civil Part court and served on my office a written objection to my wage garnishment reduction request. In their objection, they cited several cases and statutes which supported their position.

On the court date, myself and the client appeared in NJ Special Civil Part, Hunterdon County. Pressler did not send an attorney to Court to argue in person, but instead chose to rely on solely their written objection to the garnishment reduction.

I submitted my client’s expense ledger to the Judge and cited caselaw (which I’d also quoted in my papers) which showed that 10% would be too great a burden on my client’s budget. After asking a few legal questions to me on points of law, the judge addressed my client about several of his monthly expenses listed in his ledger.

At the conclusion of oral argument, the judge agreed to reduce the garnishment amount from 10% a week to 5% a week. I thus saved my client  $62.50 a week, or $250.00 per month. Without this reduction, my client would have ended up “short” on paying his other bills.

Of course, my client may never have been in this position in the first place if he had retained me to defend the original lawsuit in a timely manner, rather than allowing Pressler to get a default judgment against him. As to why my client had allowed the lawsuit to simply default, he said he’d heard that “creditors can’t garnish wages in NJ if you have children under 18.” He had learned this terrible and incorrect “advice” from an online message board, as well as a “buddy” of his who worked as a paralegal in NYC.

The lesson here is that you need to defend a NJ Special Civil Part lawsuit aggressively and quickly, or you’ll soon find yourself facing garnishment, a bank levy, possible liens on your real estate, and other unpleasant collection actions. See our recent blog post about defending NJ Special Civil Part collection cases, and call us at 908-782-5313 TODAY to discuss your case.



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