Small Claims Court Garnishee Defendant Actions
After receiving a garnishment notification, the law requires the defendant garnishee to answer within 20 days, and either admit or deny that he or she owes money to the judgment debtor.
The garnishee defendants include employers, banks (including all its branches), and anyone who owes the debtor money.
If the Garnishee defendant admits to owing money to the debtor, you must wait 20 more days after the answer has been received before you can collect your money from the garnishee defendant. After the 20 days, contact the garnishee defendant to see what they require (such as a regular copy or certified copy of the judgment) before they will pay the money to the court clerk.
Upon payment to the court clerk, you may pick up the money; or the clerk might mail it to you directly. If the garnishee defendant owes money to the judgment debtor, but not as much as requested in the Writ of Garnishment, you may take the money the garnishee defendant has withheld and then file new paperwork asking the court to issue another Writ of Garnishment for the rest of your money.
If the Garnishee Defendant Denies Owing Any Money
If garnishee defendant denies owes the judgment debtor any money, it may mean, in the case of an employer, the judgment debtor no longer works for the garnishee defendant, or it may mean that someone else has sent the employer a Writ of Garnishment before you did. If this happens, the garnishee defendant will tell you this and when the earlier Writ of Garnishment will end.
Record the date the earlier garnishment ends so, on that date, you can immediately mail to the garnishee defendant four additional Answer Form E with the number filled in by yourself or the court clerk, and the words "second answer," and the pre-stamped, pre-addressed envelopes.
If you believe that the garnishee defendant's answer is incorrect, you should write a personal statement to the court telling the judge why you believe the garnishee defendant's answer is incorrect You may need the assistance of an attorney in this situation.
The garnishee defendant may answer that he or she owes money to someone of a similar (but not identical) name and ask the court to determine whether that person is the judgment debtor. If this happens you can ask the court for an order commanding that person to answer whether or not he or she is the same person as the judgment debtor. The court then will decide the issue.
A Continuing Lien on Wages
If the garnishment is a "continuing lien" against the wages of the judgment debtor, you may receive an answer within 20 days and the continuing lien is good for 60 days after service upon the garnishee defendant.
Shortly before the 60-day period is complete, mail to the garnishee defendant three additional stamped envelopes and four Second Answer Form F.
Upon receipt of the second answer (within 20 days), you may proceed to collect the money which has been withheld. As before, if the money withheld is insufficient, you may have to file another Writ of Garnishment issued.
If the Garnishee Defendant Fails to Answer
If the garnishee defendant does not answer within the 20day time limit, you are entitled to a "default judgment" against the "garnishee defendant" for the full amount of the garnishment.
This means the garnishee defendant owes you the money whether or not he or she owes any money to the judgment debtor. You must present a motion for judgment by default - Form J to the court. If granted, you can then collect that judgment from the garnishee defendant just like the original judgment.
Settlement Offer by Judgment Debtor
Finally, should the judgment debtor come to you wanting to settle the debt after you have filed a Writ of Garnishment, take it as a good sign.
Ask for the full amount first, and only settle for a large part of the total amount in return for stopping the garnishment. Protect yourself by making copies of any checks you receive from the judgment debtor, so you can capture the bank account information.