Garnishment is a legal process that allows a creditor to take a debtor’s money that is currently being held by a third party (employer or banking institution) to satisfy a judgment. An employer can be required to pay to the court a portion (currently 25%) of those wages earned by a debtor (employee) in order to satisfy a debt owed to a judgment creditor. For example, if an individual is paid weekly, the employer is required to deduct 25% of the employee’s disposable earnings (earnings after deductions required by law). If a bank, savings and loan, credit union, or someone holding money earned on commission, have funds being held in an account that belongs to the debtor, any of these accounts can be garnished upon. This money is paid to the court and then forwarded to the judgment creditor to satisfy all or part of the debt owed.
To begin the process of garnishing an individual’s wages, a “Notice of Court Proceedings to Collect Debt” (also known as a “15 Day Notice”) must be mailed to the debtor. This notice must be mailed by certified mail or certificate of mailing to the judgment debtor at his/her last known address. The creditor must wait 15 days after mailing this notice before a wage garnishment can be filed. A copy of this notice along with proof of mailing must be filed with the clerk’s office when filing a wage garnishment. This notice is not required for non-wage garnishments (bank account attachments).
When filing a wage or non-wage garnishment, all appropriate forms must be filled out completely, and all required court costs must be paid to the clerk. In addition to the regular court costs, a separate check for $1.00 made payable to the banking institution must be attached to all non-wage garnishments. Please see the schedule of court costs for the correct amount of each respective garnishment.
Once a garnishee (employer or bank) receives the garnishment, they must respond to the court within a specified time period. That time period varies depending on the type of garnishment. If the garnishee has no money to send to the court, the garnishment has been unsuccessful. The court will send a copy of the answer filed with the clerk to the judgment creditor stating the reason why the garnishment was unsuccessful. A new garnishment may be filed at a later date once new or updated information is received. The garnishment is successful if the clerk receives an answer from the garnishee indicating that money is being withheld. The money is paid to the court, and the clerk issues a check to the judgment creditor. Checks are issued on the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays of each month.
Under Ohio garnishment law, a wage garnishment is a continuous order. This means that the garnishment remains in effect until the judgment is paid in full, the garnishee receives a subsequent garnishment order from a different creditor on the same debtor, or receives a garnishment of higher priority. A garnishment of higher priority can include a garnishment from a court of higher jurisdiction, a child support order, a tax levy, etc. However, in most cases a garnishment will be valid for 182 days from the date the garnishee begins to process it. If a wage garnishment is filed by a different creditor on the same debtor, and 182 days of the first creditor have passed, and the first creditor has not been paid in full, the first creditor will need to file a new wage garnishment, beginning with the notice to collect debt, to get back in rotation for the next 182 days of collecting.
An unlimited number of non-wage garnishments may be filed at one time. Non-wage garnishments differ from wage garnishments in that they are a one time payment. If the judgment debtor has enough funds in his/her account(s) to pay the judgment in full, the full amount is paid to the court.
Please remember, it is the judgment creditor’s responsibility to initiate any collection proceedings, to provide the court with the information needed to proceed with the collection, and to check on the status of the garnishment.