If you're struggling to make ends meet and you can't make payment on all your debts, the last thing you need is someone taking up to a quarter of your paycheck from you, but that can happen. If a creditor obtains a judgment against you on the debt you owe, they can then move to get an order of garnishment that gives them the ability to levy your bank accounts or garnish your wages.
A wage garnishment means that your employer is ordered to pay a certain portion of your wages to the creditor until the amount is paid off. That means you never see that money at all -- it comes directly out of your paycheck. It can be both frustrating and embarrassing; depending on your financial situation, it can also be debilitating.
The best way to stop a garnishment is to keep it from ever occurring. Legally, you are supposed to receive service on any lawsuit seeking judgment against you. If you receive such a document, call your creditor to see if you can work out a payment arrangement or show up in court if you don't believe the amount you owe is right.
If you know you owe the debt and have no way of paying it, consider talking to a bankruptcy lawyer about your options. Filing a petition for bankruptcy puts an automatic stay in place, which means debt collection activity must cease.
If you're already past the judgment phase or a creditor is already garnishing your wages, filing bankruptcy can help. Once the petition is filed, your lawyer can file a motion to have the garnishment stop.
Source: CNN Money, "What to do if your wages are garnished," Blake Ellis, accessed Feb. 10, 2017