What's the Law?
Debtors have garnishment protections
I owe money to a credit card company. Due to my husband being injured at work, our household income dropped, and I was not able to make my regular payments. There was a judgment issued regarding the debt owed.
The law firm representing the credit card company will not accept monthly payments, instead wanting the payment in a lump sum, which I cannot afford. Why would they not accept monthly payments? Why demand something I cannot give? Will they attempt wage garnishment? How can I avoid that?
Answer: From Ryker Wada, Legal Aid consumer attorney: There is no way to know why exactly the firm does not want to accept monthly payments. In some cases, firms are bound by decisions made by their client, which in this case is the credit card company. In other situations, the firm is attempting to collect on the full amount at once because it is simpler and more cost-effective to collect the entire judgment rather than account for monthly payments. It is entirely possible that a firm will attempt to garnish your wages in order to collect on their judgment.
There are, however, protections for debtors with regard to garnishment. If a debtor earns less than a certain amount, state and federal laws prohibit garnishment. There are two different calculations used for wage garnishment in Hawaii, and an employer must use the calculation that is most favorable to the employee/debtor.
Q: I want to file for divorce and am hopeful that it will be over as soon as possible. How long will it take for me to get my divorce?
A: From Legal Aid's family unit: It depends on whether you and your spouse agree on all of the issues. If you and your spouse agree, and you bring the papers to court and serve them on your spouse in a timely manner, it can take as little as two months to finalize your divorce.
But if you and your spouse do not agree, or if you are unable to locate your spouse to serve the papers, it can take longer. A contested divorce can take up to one or two years.
Legal Aid Society of Hawaii operates statewide. Practice areas include housing, public benefits, consumer and family law but not criminal law. For information, call 536-4302. Submit questions by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
or by U.S. mail to Legal Aid Q&A, 924 Bethel St., Honolulu, HI 96813.