Once a party is awarded a monetary judgment and becomes a judgment creditor, that party still needs to collect the judgment. The most common way a judgment creditor collects from a judgment debtor is by garnishment. Garnishments are sent to a person, entity or employer the judgment creditor believes has property that belongs to the judgment debtor. The garnishment consists of interrogatories with two sections, one section for wages and one section for property other than wages. So what should you do if you receive a “Summons and Order of Garnishment in Aid of Execution”?
The most important thing is that you answer the garnishment and return it back to the court. Under Nebraska law the garnishee, the person who received the garnishment, has 10 days upon service of to respond to the garnishment. If the garnishee fails to respond within 10 days of service of the garnishment, the garnishee can be held liable for the entire amount of the judgment. This is easy to avoid as judgments can be significant. Even if the judgment debtor is no longer an employee or you do not have any property that belongs to the judgment debtor, you must answer the garnishment interrogatories – filling in zeros is acceptable if it is true. The best practice is to answer the interrogatories the minute you are served with garnishments.
Answering the interrogatories is simple. Employers will need to do some calculations because there are limitations on how much an employer can withhold after the regular withholding. The limitations are based on weekly wage. The maximum amount of withholding will be the lesser of:
- 25% of disposal earnings for that week
- The amount which earnings exceed 30 times the federal minimum hourly wage
- $7.25 x 30 = $217.50
- 15% of disposable earnings for that week, if the individual is a head of a family.
The garnishment will come with a set of instructions on how to fill out the interrogatories. The intent of the limitations is to leave something for the wager earner. Non-employers have it even easier because they are not subject to withholding.
If questions remain or you failed to respond within 10 days and there is a pending motion to hold you or your company liable for the entire judgment – call an attorney.