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Finding Legal Help

You are not required to hire an attorney, but legal matters can be complicated. Consider talking to an attorney to go over your options. See the Finding Legal Help page for information about free and low cost ways to get legal help. 

Como encontrar ayuda legal

Usted no está obligado a contratar un abogado, pero los asuntos legales pueden ser complicados. Considere la posibilidad de hablar con un abogado para hablar de sus opciones. Para información sobre cómo obtener ayuda legal vea nuestra página Como encontrar ayuda legal.

Garnishment and Debtor's Rights

If a court decides one person owes someone else money, it will enter a judgment. The judgment will say who owes the money, to whom it is owed and how much.

One way to collect the money owed is through a writ of garnishment. This is an order requiring third parties holding the debtor's property such as an employer or a bank) to send the money to the creditor. Writs of Garnishment are governed by Utah Rule of Civil Procedure 64D.

  • If someone owes you money under a judgment you are a creditor or judgment creditor. The How to apply for a Writ of Garnishment web page has information about the process for asking for a writ of garnishment, and forms.
  • If you owe someone money under a judgment you are a debtor or judgment debtor. This web page has information about your rights if your property is being garnished.
  • If you are the third party who has the debtor's property, you are the garnishee. The Writ of Garnishment orders the garnishee to send the property to the creditor. The Responsibilities of Garnishees web page has information about your responsibilities.

Garnishment

If a judgment in a lawsuit is entered against you, the creditor has several ways to collect the judgment. One option is garnishment.

There are two kinds of writs of garnishment:

  • Writs of Continuing Garnishment - used to garnish earnings (wages)
  • Writs of Garnishment - used to garnish other property, (like a bank account)

Other kinds of garnishment, such as administrative garnishment for a student loan or taxes, are beyond the scope of this page. See Finding Legal Help web page for information on how to get help.

Debtor's rights

You should have received a Notice of Garnishment and Exemptions form. If you did not, you can find one in the Forms section below.

Read the notice carefully. It explains that a judgment for money has been entered against you and the creditor has taken steps to garnish your money or property to pay the judgment.

You should have also received a Reply and Request for Hearing form. This is also available the Forms section below. You can file a Reply and Request for Hearing if you think:

  • the Writ of Garnishment was not issued correctly,
  • the garnishee's answers to interrogatories are wrong,
  • the creditor owes you money, or
  • your property is exempt from garnishment.

Exempt property should not be taken to pay a judgment.

The Notice of Garnishment and Exemptions lists common items that are exempt. More information is available from Utah Legal Services and in the Utah Exemptions Act.

Income from a job, such as wages or a salary, is usually not exempt from garnishment. Even if property is exempt, it could still be taken unless you protect your rights.

You can protect your rights by filing a Reply and Request for Hearing with the court.

  • You must file the Reply and Request for Hearing within 14 days from the date the garnishee mailed or delivered the notice to you.
  • You must also mail or hand deliver a copy of the Reply and Request for Hearing to the creditor and the garnishee.
  • If you do not file a Reply and Request for Hearing, the garnishee will send the property they are holding to the creditor.

You cannot use the Reply and Request for Hearing to object to the judgment itself. If you want to ask the court to set aside or "undo" a judgment, you can file a Motion to Set Aside Judgment.

How much can they garnish?

A Writ of Continuing Garnishment lets a creditor take 25% of your disposable earnings. You can read the Garnishee's Answers to Interrogatories for Earnings form to see how disposable earnings are calculated. A sample is in the Forms section below.

The maximum goes up to 50% if the writ is in favor of the Office of Recovery Services to pay for child support.

A Writ of Garnishment lets a creditor garnish all the money in a bank account that is available to pay the judgment. If there is money in the account that is exempt, that money should not be taken. You can file a Reply and Request for Hearing to protect that money.

How long can wages be garnished?

Your wages can be garnished until the debt is paid. A writ of continuing garnishment is effective for one year after the date it was served, or for 120 calendar days if another writ of continuing garnishment is served. If the writ expires, the creditor can request a new one. A judgment is valid for eight years, but it can be renewed.

Multiple Writs

Multiple writs of garnishment against you may be served on the garnishee, but only one writ of garnishment may be in effect at one time. The garnishee must satisfy the writs in the order in which they are served. When an earlier Writ of Garnishment expires or is paid off, the garnishee must then satisfy the next writ.

However, a Writ of Continuing Garnishment in favor of the Office of Recovery Services or the Department of Workforce Services takes precedence over other writs and must be paid first.

A Writ of Continuing Garnishment in favor of the Office of Recovery Services or the Department of Workforce Services continues until fully paid, placing earlier writs on hold. These instructions do not apply to writs or orders entered by other courts or governmental agencies.

Financial Counseling

If you are having trouble paying your bills you might want to consider financial counseling. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development maintains a list of approved housing counseling agencies in Utah. Some of these agencies provide financial management and budget counseling. Review the list and look at the Counseling Services column to find an agency that can help. 

Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy is a legal process filed in federal court that can allow a debtor to eliminate or restructure their debt. The decision of whether to file for bankruptcy can be complicated and not all debts can be discharged. Utah Legal Services has more information on bankruptcy.

Person other than the debtor who has an interest in the property

If a person with an interest in the property being garnished, such as a joint bank account, is not the debtor, that person must file a Reply and Request for Hearing within 14 days to protect their rights.

Forms

  • Notice of Garnishment and Exemptions - PDF | Word
  • Reply and Request for Hearing - PDF | Word
  • Garnishee's Answers to Interrogatories for Earnings - PDF | Word

Related Information

The Utah State Courts mission is to provide the people an open, fair, efficient, and independent system for the advancement of justice under the law.


Page Last Modified: 5/3/2019
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