Which Assets Are Protected from Virginia Creditors?
When you become overwhelmed by financial troubles and begin to consider filing for bankruptcy, it’s natural to be worried about the harassment you might get from your creditors. Will they, for example, attempt to garnish your wages or become overly forceful in the strategies they use to seek payment from you?
That’s why it’s so important to know your rights as a debtor. In Virginia, you have certain protections against wage garnishment and asset seizure.
Wage garnishment in Virginia
Your creditors will not be able to garnish your wages unless the total of your gross wages minus any amounts that must be withheld by law are at least $290 per week. If you have dependent minor children living with you and have a household monthly income of $1,750 or less, you can claim additional exemptions of $34 per week for a single child, $52 per week for two children and $66 per week for three or more children. These amounts include all taxes but do not include optional wage deductions.
Your government benefits, such as disability or Social Security, cannot be garnished, even if they are kept separate from any other money you have. However, a summons for garnishment could temporarily prevent you from accessing your bank account, so you should seek legal assistance immediately if you receive a garnishment summons.
Under Virginia law, these are some of the assets protected from creditors:
- Up to $5,000 of household goods
- Up to $3,000 of firearms
- Up to $1,000 worth of clothing
- Up to $10,000 worth of tools and equipment needed for school or work
- Up to $6,000 of equity in a vehicle
- Up to $5,000 worth of additional property ($10,000 for married couples and $10,000 for individuals older than 65) plus another $500 for each dependent
- Any value of medically prescribed health aids
It’s important to know that if you owe child support, student loans or taxes, the government or a creditor does not need to get a court judgment before garnishing your wages. If you find yourself unable to meet these obligations, it’s a good idea to speak with a bankruptcy attorney who can advise you on filing for Chapter 13, which can help with arrears in these areas.