WHAT’S AN EMPLOYER TO DO WITH A GARNISHMENT ORDER?
Garnishments are statutory remedies granted to a creditor through a judgment to collect on a debt. When an employer receives a garnishment order, the employer has three options:
(1) answer the garnishment without an objection;
(2) answer the garnishment with an objection; or
(3) do not answer.
Since an employer is required to answer a garnishment within 10 days of receiving it, it is generally best if the employer chooses either options (1) or (2). Option (1) would require the employer to calculate the percentage of the employee’s wages that will be sent to the court to compensate the creditor, and the employer will inform the court of that amount. Option (2) allows for the employer to raise an objection to paying any amount to the court, and the reason might be that the employer is already garnishing 25% of the employee’s wages for other creditors or that the debtor is no longer an employee.
If the employer chooses to do nothing, then once the ten days have passed, the employer will be given a Scire facias, which is essentially a second chance that permits the employer to answer before a conditional judgment against the employer becomes final. This is the important part: if an employer does not answer the garnishment within the ten days, the court can issue a conditional judgment against the employer for the amount of money due to the creditor. If the employer does not answer within the time limit defined in the scire facias, then the conditional judgment granted by the court will become final, and the employer becomes responsible for paying the debt. In addition, at that point, there is no time for objections to be lodged, rather, the employer can only appeal the judgment.
RULE OF THUMB: If you are an employer, answer the garnishment within ten days.
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