When a creditor sues for a garnishment of a debtor's wages or bank account, the court can issue a writ to the bank or employer to withhold the applicable funds and to forward them to the creditor. A release of writ of garnishment removes the court's involvement from this process and stops the garnishment from the date that the court orders it.
Reasons for Garnishment Release
By the time a release of garnishment is considered, the creditor has already sued the debtor and gone through the process of having the debtor garnished. It has also received the court's order and served it on the debtor's bank or employer. For a creditor to consider a release, there must be something the creditor receives that would influence it to remove the garnishment order. For example, the debtor may agree to an installment plan so that the creditor does not have to pay any ongoing expenses related to a continuing garnishment. Alternatively, the debtor may offer to pay a substantial portion of the debt upfront so the creditor does not have to take any future legal action.
There might also be a legal basis for requesting a release. For example, the debtor might have paid the debt in full, thereby satisfying the judgment. Or, the debtor may have filed an undue hardship exemption, keeping the property out of the creditor's hands. In some cases the debtor files for bankruptcy, creating an automatic stay on existing garnishments. For a wage garnishment release, the debtor may no longer work for the employer that administrated the garnishment, meaning the employer no longer has any of the debtor's wages to garnish.
Process to Release
The creditor is typically responsible for asking the court to release the garnishment. However, state law may require the debtor to make a written demand to this effect before the creditor gets involved. In this case, the debtor completes a standard form provided by the court clerk that issued the garnishment. Or, the debtor files a motion with the court asking it to release the garnishment and providing the reason for the release.
If the creditor fails to move for a release, the debtor may file a petition with the court asking for the release and the legal basis for the release. If the court finds that it is appropriate to release the garnishment, it issues an order to this effect.
Notice of Garnishment Release
When one party moves for the release of the garnishment, it is responsible for providing legal notice to the other party. Legal notice is based on the state's rules of civil procedure and must be strictly followed. Legal notice may allow for a certified mailing of the request of the garnishment release or in-person service. The party must sign that it served the other party with proper notice when it files the motion for the release of the garnishment with the court.
If the creditor receives any of the debtor's funds via garnishment after the garnishment is released, the creditor is responsible for refunding these funds to the debtor.
Read More: Wage Garnishment & Unemployment
Samantha Kemp is a lawyer for a general practice firm. She has been writing professionally since 2009. Her articles focus on legal issues, personal finance, business and education. Kemp acquired her JD from the University of Arkansas School of Law. She also has degrees in economics and business and teaching.