Wage Garnishment Information
In-depth coverage of the garnishment process for seizing wages, bank accounts and the debtor's other assets!
If a judgment debtor owes you money but has failed to pay (or refuses to pay), you can go to someone else who owes the judgment debtor money or is holding money for him or her, and intercept that money or, you may garnish a judgment debtor's bank account or his or her wages.
Anyone who owes the debtor money, or holds money for the debtor, is called the "garnishee defendant" and through the garnishment process, you can force the "judgment debtor's" bank or employer to reveal to the court how much money it is holding or owes to the debtor.
Then, the court can require, through an order called a Writ of Garnishment - Form B, that forces the debtor's bank or employer to pay a certain part of the money owed to the debtor, into the court registry. After receiving payment, the court turns the money over to you.
You'll need to know the debtor bank(s), or where he or she works, or of someone who owes the debtor money so you can proceed with the garnishment action. The garnishment costs a small fee (around $20.00), plus the costs of serving the papers. If you are successful, you can recover these costs as part of the judgment you are collecting. (See Small claims court filing procedures )
Note: You can only garnish disposable earnings and the amount you can take is set by state law - ask the court clerk for the correct amount.
Garnishment process to garnish the debtor's bank account or wages.
Step 1: Gather Required Information
If you intend to garnish the debtor's bank account, you'll need:
- Debtor's line of work;
- Name and address of the debtor's bank (the head office info is best)
- Debtor's account number. (if you've done business with the debtor, you may be able to get this information from the back of a canceled check, otherwise you'll need to speak directly with the bank and show them the judgment in order to obtain the account number)
If you intend to garnish the debtor's wages, you'll need the name and address of employer. If you're unsure of where the debtor works, you may need to ask the debtor's friends, neighbors, tenants or other acquaintances.
Step 2: Having the Judgment Entered
Ask the court clerk to certify the Small Claims Court judgment to the district court by entering the judgment on the district court's regular judgment docket. There is no charge for this and it normally takes 5-7 business days.
Step 3: Garnishment Forms and Supplies
Free small claims court garnishment forms are provided here or you can obtain them from most legal supply stores. Small claims court forms
Once you have the above forms handy, there are just three steps left:
- Process the completed forms
- Serve the garnishment papers
- Notify the Judgment Debtor