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How does the garnishment process work for creditors?

On Behalf of | Feb 16, 2024 | collections

Garnishment is a legal procedure that allows certain parties to collect debts from a debtor’s wages, bank accounts or other assets. This process mainly benefits creditors seeking to recover unpaid debts by providing a direct method to claim the funds owed.

The process begins once a creditor obtains a final judgment against a debtor, confirming the debt’s validity and amount. However, securing a judgment is merely the first step. The creditor must then move to enforce it. In Florida, to initiate garnishment, a creditor must file a motion for a writ of garnishment with the court that issued the original judgment. This motion requires detailed information about the debtor’s employment or the location of their assets.

Serving the writ of garnishment

Once the court issues the writ of garnishment, the creditor must serve it on the entity holding the debtor’s assets, known as the garnishee. In the case of wage garnishment, this could be the debtor’s employer. If bank accounts are the target, the bank is served.

The garnishee is legally obligated to withhold the specified amounts from the debtor’s wages or accounts and direct them to the creditor. It’s important for creditors to accurately identify the garnishee and ensure proper service to avoid delays or dismissal of the garnishment action.

Exemptions and debtor’s rights

Florida law provides certain protections for debtors, limiting the amount that can be garnished and exempting specific types of income. For example, wages of a head of household are largely protected from garnishment. There are exemptions for social security benefits, retirement accounts and other specific income types.

Collecting the garnished funds

Upon successful service of the writ, the garnishee will begin withholding funds from the debtor’s wages or accounts, as applicable. Depending on the court’s instructions, these funds are then remitted directly to the court or the creditor.

Seeking legal assistance throughout the process helps ensure that creditors handle these situations according to applicable laws so that they can benefit from receipt of what they’re due, not additional legal and practical headaches.