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What is a writ of garnishment?

There is nothing more frustrating than being owed money and not receiving it. Everybody wants to be paid their fair due; that is why creditors will sometimes employ a writ of garnishment to collect what is owed.

The Basics

A writ of garnishment is a legal order in which a third-party is compelled to withhold some type of asset from the individual being garnished (called the debtor). This is perhaps most commonly known through wage garnishment, which means an employer being forced to withhold wages from a debtor-employee to pay one of the employee's creditors. However, in Texas, wage garnishments are generally only available to child support agencies and the state and federal government, including the IRS.

A writ of garnishment does not have to involve wages, however. Creditors can garnish the debtor's bank accounts and some non-retirement investment accounts. This type of writ of garnishment is sometimes known as a bank levy.

The Process

A writ of garnishment generally comes at a later stage in the collections process. However, it is useful for creditors who have been unable to collect through other means.

Once obtained, a copy of the writ of garnishment is sent to the bank holding the debtor's bank account. The bank then freezes the account and performs due diligence. Once the process is complete, the creditor will receive the amount in the writ (minus the bank's fees).

Complications can arise, for example if the debtor declares bankruptcy or the bank account is exempt by law. To determine if a writ of garnishment is the right tool for you to collect, contact an experienced attorney collections to discuss your options.

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