Is it legal for a creditor to garnish a debtor’s accounts without a court order?

UPDATED: Mar 2, 2012

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Is it legal for a creditor to garnish a debtor’s accounts without a court order?

Or at the very least a notification of intent? And if the answer is no, what are my options for getting my money back if it was seized unlawfully?

Asked on March 2, 2012 under Bankruptcy Law, Washington


Kevin Bessant / Law Office of Kevin Bessant & Associates

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Typically a creditor must receive a court order or judgment before a wage garnishment can occur. Often times the person being garnished has been served with the creditors intent to garnish and a notice to appear in court for the hearing. However, because creditor laws vary by state, please discuss this matter with a attorney in your area to determine what rights you have as a debtor in this matter. 

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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