If your bank account has been garnished, it means that a creditor or collection agency has been granted permission by a civil court to remove cash from your account in order to collect money for a past-due debt. Creditors take this measure only when they are unable to settle debts with debtors through phone conversations and mailing notices.

Garnishing a Bank Account: The Legal Process

When a lender or collection agency files a lawsuit against you, the process begins. You have the option of defending the case at this point. You might also try to reach an agreement with the other party before the court makes its decision.

A judgment from a court is required for a creditor to withdraw money from your bank account. A writ of garnishment, signed by a court officer, is used to accomplish this. Your bank is legally obligated to freeze your account and transfer over the money in your account to your creditor whenever a creditor executes a writ of garnishment on you.

Unfortunately, banks may freeze accounts that do not contain your funds merely because you own a portion of them. For example, if you’re identified as a joint owner on your child’s bank account, the bank may freeze it.

The Internal Revenue Service is the only agency that can take money from your bank account without a court order (IRS).

What Can You Do?

You have 10 days from the time you get the writ to file an exemption claim. This entails notifying the court that the funds in your bank account at the time of the levy were shielded or exempt from creditors. Exemptions vary by state and may include a portion of your salary, as well as payments from Social Security, Veterans Affairs, unemployment, and child support.

Because exemptions are usually limited to specific sources of funding, mixing incomes may not be a wise idea. For example, you should store your salary in a different bank account from the one where your spouse receives unemployment benefits.

Because filing a claim of exemption can be a difficult process, consulting with a civil litigation attorney who specializes in this area may be beneficial.

Getting Rid of Levies in the Future

A charge on your bank account will not be lifted until your debt is totally paid off. It only applies to the monies in your account at the time the garnishment is made. A creditor, on the other hand, has the legal power to garnish your bank account many times. As a result, you should keep your money out of your bank accounts until your debts are paid off.

A levy on your bank account should be taken as a sign that a wage garnishment is on the way, so you should consider paying off your debt as soon as possible.

Objecting to the Garnishment

If you receive notified of the garnishment and believe you have a good defense, you can go to court to contest the order. While you may be able to fight your case on your own, hiring an attorney may be a better option. Even though it is costly, it might save you money and pain in the long run. You can also work out a payment plan with your creditor once the judgment is entered.


The best method to avoid a garnishment is to contact your creditors ahead of time and work out a repayment plan that works for both of you. If you discover that your bank account is set to be garnished as a result of a court order, you should contact a debt-related attorney immediately. You never know, you could be able to pay off your debt.