Author Topic: Self-employed garnishment  (Read 1194 times)

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WinSomeLoseSome

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Self-employed garnishment
« on: March 27, 2016 10:43:41 AM »
Hi everyone.

New here, and not getting much direction from attorneys I've consulted with.

Here's the brief situation: moved to a different state to be near a sick parent, working as an independent contractor/self-employed freelancer (not big bucks). Ended up renting a place from a landlord that I came to find out TOO LATE is an absolute psychotic nightmare. I have always been an excellent tenant, no problems whatsoever - always pay on time, meticulously clean, quiet, no trouble. Move into this guy's house and nothing works, it takes weeks and months to get anything fixed, he's a complete pathological liar and paranoid in the real sense, and he sneaks into my unit without my permission.

Fast forward to he won't stop entering my unit without permission, when I repeatedly ask him to. Send him a written notice, he still waltzes in with his keys and the lease says I can't change keys (who knows he'd be crazy, though??). I feel scared and powerless.

I speak with the sheriff and am advised to get a protective order, which I do. Turns out the LL gets really p.o.'ed and turns around and tries to evict me for all sorts of FALSE allegations (like laughable, ridiculous stories he made up). I hire an attorney (who is a DUD, I later find out), and we go to court to fight eviction, but it's a small town "all boys club" court and they know their attorney (local yokel) and vote in their favor: eviction and a judgement for their attorney's fees. I want to appeal the decision, but said attorney says we'll lose MORE money and I'm already nearly broke. So I tell my attorney let's talk payment plans - I have had a very slow 6 months of clients, so not very much money left - and he says, let's have you move out and give them the key, then we'll approach them.

I do what he says, and then call again about payment plans, he says let's give them a couple more weeks to approach us, and then we'll approach them, if they don't first.

Suddenly a week later I get an email from said dud attorney, stating I now have 2 garnishment summons filed against my checking acct AND my employer (who's not my employer, but my client). I lose my sh** but attorney just says to get money out of bank and "don't leave a trail". WHAT THE ACTUAL ?? I paid this guy, too...jfc.

So now I'm sitting here for 2 days reading all sorts of confusing info on whether they can garnish my payments via my client (whom they must think is my employer??), and I've nearly emptied my bank account and will close it come Monday.

I did tell my idiot attorney to NOW reach out to the opposing side and ask to set up a payment plan; however, as they are total dbags and are after me to retaliate for the protective order I filed against them first, I'm sure they'll come back with a plan that I won't be able to afford.

I don't want to be on the run from the "law," when I've done nothing wrong here.

On top of it all, I have to travel to a foreign country with said sick parent for medical treatments and will be leaving this country in a couple of weeks for a few months, so I have everything coming at me from 1200 directions.

1. What are my options, if the opposing side doesn't come up with a reasonable payment plan?

2. How to protect myself from a bank levy - my bank is nearly empty, as I said above, and I'll be closing the account I've had for 15 years because of this But then what?

3. Can they garnish my money from my client, since I'm self-employed?

4. What options do I have to keep my leftover cash SAFE and handy while I'm out of the country and will need money for  necessities? (Green dot? Internet banks? Preloaded Visa, and what if it gets stolen??)

FYI, I don't have any dependents, so I can't claim exemptions of that sort.

Any ideas will be appreciated.

Thanks!

kevinmanheim

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Re: Self-employed garnishment
« Reply #1 on: March 27, 2016 01:26:07 PM »
If they have a judgment, they can move to seize payments from third parties such as your clients. Those seizures aren't limited by the wage garnishment protections afforded to real employees. In other words, they can take 100% of your payments. The third party must comply, or they could face contempt of court proceedings.

The plaintiff can also order you to appear for a debtor's exam, at which you would need to testify under oath about your assets and income. Where are you getting the money to travel overseas? Expect them to ask that question.

If you will be gone for a few months on a legitimate family medical emergency, you need to make sure there are no court-ordered debtor exams scheduled while you are away. If you miss one, you could be in contempt of court, and facing arrest upon your return.

Your opponent is angry, and you owe them money that the court says they can collect. Don't expect them to agree to a payment plan when they know you have assets or income they can grab. They don't have to agree to a payment plan. 

wombat_ma

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Re: Self-employed garnishment
« Reply #2 on: March 27, 2016 02:33:17 PM »
If they have a judgment, they can move to seize payments from third parties such as your clients. Those seizures aren't limited by the wage garnishment protections afforded to real employees. In other words, they can take 100% of your payments. The third party must comply, or they could face contempt of court proceedings.

The plaintiff can also order you to appear for a debtor's exam, at which you would need to testify under oath about your assets and income. Where are you getting the money to travel overseas? Expect them to ask that question.

If you will be gone for a few months on a legitimate family medical emergency, you need to make sure there are no court-ordered debtor exams scheduled while you are away. If you miss one, you could be in contempt of court, and facing arrest upon your return.

Your opponent is angry, and you owe them money that the court says they can collect. Don't expect them to agree to a payment plan when they know you have assets or income they can grab. They don't have to agree to a payment plan.


All  very good points.  And maybe it is a time for the OP to look at his total financial picture and analyze it. If one has income (as in during that foreign trip) and no assets to lose, a Chapter 7 BK might be a solution that will wipe out the judgement. Sometimes just informing the other party that you are considering a Chapter 7, might get you a favorable settlement. If one is not eligible for Chapter 7, a Chapter 13 might be a way to force a payment plan on an unwilling creditor.

If one has assets to lose and BK does not make sense, then maybe a primer on this site on how to make oneself judgement proof will be helpful.

I am not an attorney. My posts here are not legal advice.

CleaningUp

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Re: Self-employed garnishment
« Reply #3 on: March 27, 2016 03:58:11 PM »
First thing to do is get out of the place.  No reason for you to stay in an intolerable situation.

The protective injunction will help you as you sort things out down the road.

You need to look at the state's landlord/tenant laws and see if you have any relief there.  At the very least you have constructive eviction to use against him to warrant the breaking of the lease, and thereby relieving you of anything you might owe him. 

Also, remember, he has the obligation to rent the place as quickly as he can, and your obligation to him, if any survives your challenge, will be limited to the time that the property was actually vacant.

I would be in court challenging the attachments using the constructive eviction argument and the protective order as an additional lever.  If the property is being operated as part of a corporation, he will have to be represented by an attorney...corporations cannot litigate pro se.  His costs are going to skyrocket, and it will be unlikely that you would be stuck with his legal bills even if you lose.

But the first thing to do is get out while you have the chance before the mess turns into a REAL mess.
« Last Edit: March 27, 2016 04:05:20 PM by CleaningUp »

wombat_ma

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Re: Self-employed garnishment
« Reply #4 on: March 27, 2016 07:50:32 PM »
First thing to do is get out of the place.  No reason for you to stay in an intolerable situation.

The protective injunction will help you as you sort things out down the road.

You need to look at the state's landlord/tenant laws and see if you have any relief there.  At the very least you have constructive eviction to use against him to warrant the breaking of the lease, and thereby relieving you of anything you might owe him. 

Also, remember, he has the obligation to rent the place as quickly as he can, and your obligation to him, if any survives your challenge, will be limited to the time that the property was actually vacant.

I would be in court challenging the attachments using the constructive eviction argument and the protective order as an additional lever.  If the property is being operated as part of a corporation, he will have to be represented by an attorney...corporations cannot litigate pro se.  His costs are going to skyrocket, and it will be unlikely that you would be stuck with his legal bills even if you lose.

But the first thing to do is get out while you have the chance before the mess turns into a REAL mess.


All very good points too. The problem is those legal maneuvers will probably require a good attorney, who is also not a member of "old boys club" in this small town and would be willing to fight aggressively on behalf of an outsider. Time to find this attorney plus money to pay him might be short in the OP's situation.

Another option is to consider a "pro se" appeal which will take the case out of this small town "old boys club" court. If the OP have not missed the appeal deadline, that is.

I am not an attorney. My posts here are not legal advice.

CleaningUp

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Re: Self-employed garnishment
« Reply #5 on: March 27, 2016 09:41:54 PM »

All very good points too. The problem is those legal maneuvers will probably require a good attorney, who is also not a member of "old boys club" in this small town and would be willing to fight aggressively on behalf of an outsider. Time to find this attorney plus money to pay him might be short in the OP's situation.

Another option is to consider a "pro se" appeal which will take the case out of this small town "old boys club" court. If the OP have not missed the appeal deadline, that is.



What error in law has the court made to warrant an appeal?

Let's not get the OP too far ahead of where the case actually lies.  There is a garnishment, and the OP can challenge the garnishment.  And since possession will not be an issue if the OP moves or plans to move, the case can focus on the landlord's contempt of the court order...

Which is exactly what the OP needs to do while she goes to lift the garnishment.

Start with the first step and take the next steps as the opportunities arise.


wombat_ma

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Re: Self-employed garnishment
« Reply #6 on: March 28, 2016 02:13:02 AM »
What error in law has the court made to warrant an appeal?

We do not know. Not enough info here.


There is a garnishment, and the OP can challenge the garnishment...the case can focus on the landlord's contempt of the court order...

On what grounds? Did the landlord actually violated the protective order? Is that order still in force or was it dissolved by the Court?

I think we are all whistling Dixie here - not nearly enough info about the case for us to be helpful.
I am not an attorney. My posts here are not legal advice.

CleaningUp

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Re: Self-employed garnishment
« Reply #7 on: March 28, 2016 02:18:39 PM »
We can only go by what the OP tells us, Wombat.  And yes, he hasn't told us all we need to know.

Absent that, we can only surmise and offer suggestions based on reasonable assumptions.  Are the assumptions that have been made unreasonable?

Any garnishment or attachment can be challenged.  And that is what the OP needs to do to guard his interests.  He needs a shoehorn or two to be able to get the garnishment off his assets, and the ones that I suggested are reasonable ones that may get the whole matter back into litigation...which is the first step to getting the attachments removed.

You need, Wombat, to more of a look at the subtleties of strategy and tactics before you dismiss outright some of these suggestions.  It demonstrates a lack of understanding has to how to work the law, the courts, an the bureaucracy to one's own advantage.

Oh, and note, that any time you talk about appealing, you are going to have to allege an error in LAW unless THE LAW allows trial de nova.  It is one of those crucial elements on which all appeals must be based, and without which your appeal will be summarily dismissed it a lecture from the bench about wasting the courts time.  (Remember, that while a pro se litigant is allowed some latitude before the bench, he is not excused from knowing the rules of the Court and the laws that govern both actions and litigation).

And combining the two thoughts, you need to consider subtle application of the laws and the rules can often create the error in law that one needs to provide an appeal.  It is politely called "opening the door" in legal circles.


trueq

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Re: Self-employed garnishment
« Reply #8 on: March 28, 2016 09:52:03 PM »
Are U located in WI?

There is one great solution in WI for this.

My free speech is not legal advice.  If you need legal advice, you need to talk to a lawyer.

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Arbitration record:   9 wins * 0 loses
Court Record:         2 wins * 2 judgments (1 of the 2 judgments has been vacated, other judgment upheld on appeal, marked "satisfied", because I wrote a check.)

The one bank that beat me in court, I now have a $2200 limit credit card from them again.
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