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Garnishment

Garnishment procedures are governed by Arizona law and are extremely complicated.  Everyone involved must follow these procedures correctly.  The Court may issue an order for monetary penalties against anyone who does not proceed properly, including the judgment creditor.

  • Garnishment is a legal process where one person or agency may collect money from another person or agency after a money judgment has been entered.
  • A Money Judgment is an order signed by a judicial officer that awards money to one person or agency against another person or agency.

There are generally 3 entities in a garnishment proceedings:

  • Judgment Creditor is a person or entity who is owed money
  • Judgment Debtor is a person or entity who owes money
  • Garnishee is a person or entity possessing the money or property that belongs to the judgment debtor

Example: I did not pay my student loans on time and am in default, so I am the judgment debtor. 

The judgment creditor, the agency who gave me the student loan, petitioned to get their money back. 

The garnishee is my employer, who is taking money from my paychecks to give to the judgment creditor.

Once a money judgment is entered in entered in favor of a person or agency, that person or agency becomes a judgment creditor.  The Court will not state the process to collect money owed to a judgment creditor.  The judgment creditor is responsible for collecting the money, if the judgment debtor fails to pay voluntarily.  The judgment creditor is responsible for collecting the money, if the judgment debtor fails to pay voluntarily. The judgment creditor has a number of options available to collect a judgment.  One of these options is known as a garnishment, by which a money judgment may be collected from the following:

  • Earnings: wages, commissions, pensions, or bonuses paid or payable to the judgment debtor
  • Non-earnings: money or property owed to the judgment debtor that is in possession of a third person such as rent or a bank account or the contents of a safe deposit box

A judgment creditor who wishes to begin a garnishment must have specific and accurate financial information to proceed including a physical address for the judgment debtor and the employer or holder of assets.  If garnishment proceedings are filed incorrectly, a judgment creditor may be required to pay the garnishee's costs including attorney fees.  If a judgment debtor does not provide this information voluntarily, the judgment creditor may request an order from the Court requiring the judgment debtor to answer questions about the debtor's financial circumstances.

To pursue a garnishment through an Arizona court, the money or property targeted must be in Arizona.  An Arizona garnishment proceedings cannot be used to collect money or property located in another state.

The procedures and forms used to collect judgments from earnings are different from the procedures and forms needed to collect judgments from non-earnings. Separate packets are available for these two types of garnishment.  At the beginning of each packet you will find a Process Checklist for the Judgment Creditor.  Carefully review the information to better understand your responsibilities in representing yourself in a garnishment proceeding.

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This website has been prepared for general information purposes only. The information on this website is not legal advice. Legal advice is dependent upon the specific circumstances of each situation. Also, the law may vary from state-to-state or county-to-county, so that some information in this website may not be correct for your situation. Finally, the information contained on this website is not guaranteed to be up to date. Therefore, the information contained in this website cannot replace the advice of competent legal counsel licensed in your jurisdiction.

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