How Does a Bank Garnishment Work?  In your recent status report from Altitude Community Law it says that the court has issued a bank garnishment. Is that good news? What can you expect as a result?  These questions and more are addressed below.

What is a bank garnishment?  It is a document issued by the court, once a judgment is entered against an owner that order the bank to hold/seize all funds in an owners account up to the amount of the judgment on the day the bank is served with the garnishment.

How much money can we get through a bank garnishment?  You can garnish up to the entire amount of judgment plus interest and costs for the garnishment. You can not garnish for assessment that have accrued since the judgment.

When is the bank served?  We generally attempt to have garnishments served on the 1st, 15th or 30th of the month as those are the days when most individuals are paid and funds are deposited in their bank accounts.

What happens after the bank is served?  The bank must freeze all monies in the account up to the amount listed on garnishment on the date served.  Then the bank has 10 days to file an answer with the court indicating how much money it is holding from an owner’s account.

What if the bank is holding a small amount or nothing?  If the amount is too small (usually under $50.00 or nothing) the garnishment will not be pursued and the money held will be returned to the owner.

What if the bank is holding money?  Once the answer is received, we must then serve the owner with a copy of garnishment.  The owner then has 10 days to object to the garnishment.  If there is not objection, the Court will order the bank to send the monies being held to the Court who will then disburse it to your association.

What grounds does an owner have for objecting?  The only issue is whether the money being held is “protected” money. The number one exception is social security benefits which are not garnishable.  Child support money is also considered “protected” money, which would also not be garnishable.

How long does it take to get the money?  This varies by court, but on average you can expect somewhere between 45-90 days, after the owner is served with the garnishment.  So, a while – be patient – the money isn’t going anywhere.

How come the bank says they are holding money but we don’t receive all or any of it?  Just because the owner has money in their account, does not mean we always have a right to take it.  A bank can claim a set-off against some or all of the account balance for monies it is owed from the owner.  It could be as collateral for a loan or maybe the minimum balance required to keep the account open.

Can we serve repeated garnishments on the bank?  Yes you can, however we have found that once the owner is aware that we have served the first garnishment they tend to close their account and open one at a different bank.

If you have specific questions about bank garnishments please call your collection attorney at 303-432-9999

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