If I am being sued in a civil case, can my salary be garnished without a court ruling?

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If I am being sued in a civil case, can my salary be garnished without a court ruling?

I lived in an apartment 10 years ago and been receiving notices that I am being sued for breaking the lease. Also received a notice at work for employment verification.

Asked on November 28, 2011 under Bankruptcy Law, Georgia

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

There will need to be a court judgment against you in order for there to be a wage garnishment.  The wage garnishment is to enforce the court judgment.  

If you have not been served by a process server with the summons and complaint (complaint is the lawsuit attached to the summons), there isn't any lawsuit yet.  When you are served with the summons and complaint, you will need to file an answer to the complaint with the court and serve it by mail on the opposing party.  The statute of limitations may have expired since ten years have elapsed.  You could argue this as a defense to bar the lawsuit.  If the lawsuit was filed and served upon you and you did not file an answer to the complaint within the time set forth in the summons and serve it by mail on the opposing party, the opposing party can get a default judgment against you.  This means you have lost by default for failing to timely respond by filing your answer to the complaint. If that happened, there may be a wage garnishment to enforce the judgment against you.  If a default judgment was entered against you, you will need to file a motion to set aside the default.  If the court grants your motion, the case is back on track and litigation will continue.  Again, your answer to the complaint denies the allegations in the complaint and if applicable, you should assert the affirmative defense of the statute of limitations.  If the other party missed the statute of limitations, the lawsuit will be barred.


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