What happens if my employer ignores or refuses to honor a court garnishment of my wages?

Bad things.

After a creditor sues you and gets a judgment, they want to collect their monies.  If you are working, they send a Writ of Garnishment to your employer with very specific instructions.  If you don’t file bankruptcy, pay off the judgment, or work something out, your take-home pay is going to decrease by about 25%.

Sometimes, I have clients who are very close friends with their employer, or with Debbie in Payroll.  Debbie will “forget” to process the garnishment for a couple of weeks to give the debtor time to figure something out.  Unfortunately, by ignoring the proper Writ of Garnishment, your employer can get in trouble and Debbie may get fired.

If your employer refuses to answer a Writ of Garnishment, or misfiles it for a few weeks. and the creditor finds out, your employer may end up going to court on an Order to Show Cause, where they have to explain to the judge why they ignored the court documents.  Even worse, your employer may end up paying (personally):

1.  the value of the garnishment,

2.  the entire judgment,

3.  reasonable costs and attorney’s fees of the party trying to garnish you.

In other words, you employer may get hauled to court and have to pay your garnishment and additional legal fees that the creditor tacks on, all because they tried to “help” by ignoring a court order.  ignore garnishment

Utah State Court Rule 64(d) states in part that the garnishee (the company that received the garnishment):

… (j) Liability of garnishee.

(j)(1) A garnishee who acts in accordance with this rule, the writ or an order of the court is released from liability, unless answers to interrogatories are successfully controverted.

(j)(2)(A) If the garnishee fails to comply with this rule, the writ or an order of the court, the court may order the garnishee to appear and show cause why the garnishee should not be ordered to pay such amounts as are just, including the value of the property or the balance of the judgment, whichever is less, and reasonable costs and attorney fees incurred by parties as a result of the garnishee’s failure. If the garnishee shows that the steps taken to secure the property were reasonable, the court may excuse the garnishee’s liability in whole or in part.