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What Is An Attachment Of Earnings Order?

If you have a County Court Judgement (CCJ) against you and you don't stick to its conditions and pay back what you should then your creditor will probably take further action to get their money back. They can, for example, go to the County Court again and ask them to set up an Attachment of Earnings Order.

So, what does this mean? In basic terms this kind of ruling will have the money that you are supposed to be paying against your debts taken directly from your salary or your benefits at source. This way, the creditor gets their payments and you have to make them because they are basically made for you by your employer/the state.

An Attachment of Earnings Order will only be set up in certain circumstances. Although you have no control over it once it is approved you do get input into how it works. If a creditor asks the court for this solution then you will be sent a form by the court which you will need to complete -- you are legally obliged to complete this form. It asks for details about you, your family and your employer as well as information on your other debts and finances as a whole.

This form also allows you to make an offer for the payment that is due. To have any chance of being approved here you will have to show that you are suggesting an amount that you can afford and that takes into account other debt and financial commitments that you have. In some cases people will suffer negative effects from their employer finding out about the fact that they are in debt. If this is the case with you then there is a box you can tick on this form that asks for the order to be suspended -- you will need to explain why this is necessary.

An Attachment of Earnings Order will only be approved by the courts if you earn over a certain amount in take home pay. If you earn less than the minimum set here then you will be held to fall below the protected rate. If the order is levied against you then you have 14 days to disagree with it formally to the court. If there is a problem with the actual deductions that are set here (i.e. you don’t think that you can afford them) then you’ll need to talk to a judge in a private hearing to discuss your finances in more detail.

If you have more than one CCJ against you and are having problems with them all then you may be ordered to pay a Consolidated Attachment of Earnings Order. This works the same as the standard order but the sum of money that is deducted will be paid out to multiple creditors. You will need to apply to the courts to consolidate CCJ payments in this way.

A lot of people worry that they might find that a change in circumstance means that they can no longer afford to repay their order at the original set level. You may, for example, lose your job or end up with a lower income for a period of time. If this happens you can ask the court to review your case and to make changes if applicable.

If you do lose your job then your order will stop -- bear in mind that this is a suspension and not a full end to the order. Once you get a new job you will have to start the order again with your new employer. It is your responsibility to tell the court this -- it is a criminal offence not to do so and you could be given a fine or a prison sentence if you don’t.
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