What does a "Writ of Garnishment" Mean?

Katriena Knights

A writ of garnishment is issued when it has been determined that a person must pay out funds to another party, often on a regular basis, with the money being removed directly from paid wages. It automatically removes funds from a person's bank account and awards those funds to the other party. Several circumstances can lead to a writ being issued, but in most cases, a court order is necessary for the garnishment to occur.

A writ of garnishment orders funds from someone's wages to be automatically deducted and paid to another party.
A writ of garnishment orders funds from someone's wages to be automatically deducted and paid to another party.

One common circumstance that can lead to a writ of garnishment is when a defendant has failed to pay debts such as credit card bills or other longstanding debts. In these cases, the other party or corporation can sue for the money it is owed. The results of the lawsuit can lead to a court order for garnishment of wages.

Garnishment occurs after a legal judgment against a debtor ensues.
Garnishment occurs after a legal judgment against a debtor ensues.

In cases where a writ has been issued, the debtor's employer is required to abide by the terms of the court order and will have no choice but to garnish the person's wages. It is not possible for the employee to negotiate with his employer to avoid this. It is, however, possible to negotiate with a creditor to modify payment schedules and agreements before the garnishment becomes necessary.

Another circumstance that sometimes leads to a similar court order is failure to pay child support. A party who has not received child support can file suit and receive a court order that will lead to wage garnishment in order to obtain the funds that are due. The exact execution of a writ of garnishment is determined by the specifications of the court order. Funds can be removed in a single payment or on a regular basis until the debt is judged to be fully paid.

Similar to a writ of garnishment is a writ of attachment. This legal term refers to seizure of property, with this seized property functioning to repay a debt or satisfy a previous contract that was not upheld. A writ of attachment generally is issued to law enforcement personnel, giving them authority to seize the asset in question. Typically, it is also issued as a result of a court decision, although it can sometimes be used to freeze assets before the court case has been decided. This measure usually is taken only if a defendant is suspected of fraud or is likely to remove or hide assets before the court can determine how the assets should be distributed.

You might also Like

Readers Also Love

Discussion Comments


@Valencia - The bankruptcy route is fine if your friend is eligible. There are particular conditions applicants must meet, including being able to prove they can really pay back what is agreed.

If someone makes an application for a writ of garnishment against her salary she would need to prove extreme financial hardship. Obviously this means her income is low and she owns nothing much property wise.

You can see that these two options are pretty much polar opposites, so it's a case of jumping one way or the other. Whatever happens, I would be steering her towards some kind of financial counseling.


My best friend is having major financial issues, following a period of reckless spending and the unexpected loss of her job.

She has now found work in another state, but is considering the bankruptcy 13 option, as she doesn't earn enough to pay what each creditor wants. Having someone take money directly from her salary seems to be an equally unworkable solution.

I have advised her to research any garnishment exemptions that exist, as a temporary measure, but so far she hasn't come up with anything. Is there anything else I can do to help her?


If you can, I recommend you do your best to avoid getting your employers involved with your debt issues.

Recently I had to have a meeting with a very irate boss, who was waving a writ of garnishment form around and clearly expressing his disappointment in me. I am pretty sure that this will affect my chances for promotion, as I look like someone who can't manage their life properly.

So if you have the chance to make an agreement with the people you owe, do it! I wish I could turn back time and take that opportunity myself.

Post your comments
Forgot password?