When Does a Garnishment Expire?

After a creditor receives a judgment against a debtor, it can request that the court issue a writ of garnishment instructing the debtor's employer to withhold wages to satisfy the judgment. Creditors often have 10 years or even 20 years to collect a judgment. However, there are a number of ways that the garnishment order can expire.

Debt Satisfied

Many garnishment orders permit a continuing garnishment until the underlying judgment is satisfied. If this is the case, the garnishment order will state that the garnishment order will stay in effect until "satisfied in full" or similar language.. Once the judgment is paid in full, the creditor usually must send a request for a garnishment release.

Time Limit

A garnishment order may naturally terminate after a certain period of time designated by state law. For example, Utah law allows a garnishment to continue for up to one year, while Missouri garnishment orders usually last for 60 to 90 days.. Garnishments issued in Colorado are effective for 182 days. The garnishment order should indicate how long the garnishment will be effective.

However, creditors usually can go back to get a subsequent garnishment order if the time has expired but the debt has not been paid in full. If this occurs, the garnishment is released between the time when the first order expired and the time the second order was issued.

Termination of Employment

If the garnishment is for wages, the garnishment stops if the person being garnished loses his job. While switching jobs may provide temporary relief, this often is not a good strategy because the debtor may have to pay interest until the judgment is satisfied. Once the creditor learns the debtor's new place of employment, it can request a new writ of garnishment.

Bankruptcy

When an individual files for bankruptcy, the court issues an automatic stay. This means that all credit collection efforts must cease, including existing garnishments.

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About the Author

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.