Garnishment is a procedure where a creditor gets a court to order a third party to pay the creditor money it otherwise owed to the debtor. With a writ of garnishment, a creditor can attach and intercept a debtor's property. Garnishment is a method creditors use to enforce debts. A common example of garnishment occurs when a creditor sues a debtor for a particular debt and obtains a money judgment against the debtor. With a money judgment, under Idaho laws, the creditor can then move to garnish the debtor's wages. That means the creditor can intercept a portion of the debtor's paycheck until the debt is paid in full.
When a creditor (or plaintiff) sues a debtor (or defendant) and wins, the creditor obtains a money judgment for the amount owed. For example, if a debtor stops making payments on his $15,000 credit card balance, the credit card company may sue him for breach of contract. If the credit card company wins the lawsuit, it will obtain a money judgment (or court order) for the $15,000 the debtor owes. With the money judgment, the creditor can move the court to issue a writ of garnishment on the debtor's wages. Once the court issues the writ, Idaho garnishment laws require that the sheriff serve (or deliver) the writ to the defendant and the garnishee. The garnishee is a third party, typically the debtor's employer.
In addition to Idaho state law, federal consumer protection laws apply to garnishments in Idaho. Federal law exempts 75 percent of the debtor's income from wage garnishment. Accordingly, if a debtor makes $3,000 per month, then $2,225 of the paycheck is protected from wage garnishment. In other words, the creditor could only get $775 a month from that debtor through wage garnishment. In addition, specific types of income are protected all together from wage garnishment. For example, creditors cannot garnish pensions and retirement benefits nor can they garnish veteran's benefits, disability benefits, workers compensation, social security or unemployment benefits. Finally, while interest accrues on the judgment as long as it remains unpaid, in Idaho, the maximum applicable interest rate is 12 percent.
Creditors can also request garnishment on other assets like bank accounts. In that scenario, the debtor's bank is the garnishee. If the creditor attaches the debtor's bank account, then the bank must pay divert money from the debtor's account and use that to pay the creditor.
Please contact a qualified attorney licensed to practice in Idaho to find out how the facts of your situation apply to Idaho garnishment laws, which are subject to change.