Phoenix, Arizona Garnishment Defense Lawyer

Protection From Phoenix, Arizona Garnishments

Beware, the debt collector cometh! Below, I will explain the majority of things you need to know if you’ve been served with a garnishment in Arizona.  An Arizona garnishment (whether it’s an wage earnings garnishment or a Arizona bank garnishment) may affect you in the following ways:

  1. If you are the debtor who owes someone money;

  2. It may affect you if you are the employer of someone who owes money to a creditor;

  3. It may affect you if you are a business (or business owner), an LLC. or corporation that owes money to someone else, or employees a debtor who owes someone money.

Arizona garnishments do not always result in the recovery of money or property. A wrongful garnishment may result in the wrongdoer having to pay thousands of dollars in damages and attorney's fees to the people subjected to the wrongful garnishment.

Garnishment is an effective remedy to collect a judgment. The procedure is complex and complicated. A novice should not attempt it. If you are not the kind of person who is willing to perform open-heart surgery on yourself, don't try to do a garnishment without competent and experienced legal advice.

I have been meeting with a lot of people lately that have received a notice of a wage garnishment from their employer as well as individuals (and small businesses) who have received Arizona garnishments for debts that are alleged to have been unpaid.  Arizona Wage garnishments are terrible.  You are embarrassed because your boss/HR Department now knows that you are going through financial difficulties, you may be barely getting by as it is, and now you are being told that your paycheck will be 25% less.  Unfortunately, most law firms overwhelmingly suggest that the solution is to file bankruptcy.  But what if you don’t want to file bankruptcy, or what if if you’re not a candidate to file for bankruptcy? My office has been successful and helping many debtors stop garnishments which have been filed against them.

Times When Bankruptcy May Not be the Solution:

It seems that nearly every article on the internet on the subject of arizona wage garnishments as a thinly veiled sales pitch for filing a bankruptcy. Indeed, I meet many people who after visiting with bankruptcy law attorneys (for so called “free consultations”) complain to me that they felt that the only solution suggested was to file a bankruptcy. The free consultation was actually a sales pitch by attorneys who primarily do bankruptcies (if the only tool one has is a hammer, then that’s the only thing they’ll use). But what if a bankruptcy is not the solution for you or your company?  Below are examples of when bankruptcy may not be appropriate when there is an garnishment sought:

  1. If there are legal defenses to the garnishment or the judgment;

  2. If you have too many assets;

  3. If you’ve filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy within the last 8 years;

  4. If bankruptcy is an option, but not at the present time (for strategic reasons);

  5. If the garnishment can be successfully settled through a debt negotiation;

  6. If you are an LLC or employer who has been served as the garnishee;

  7. If you are the LLC or corporation who actually owes money and does not wish to dissolve itself by filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Obviously, if a bankruptcy is the solution, my office will advise, counsel and represent you in your bankruptcy proceeding, but only if it truly is your best option.

The Arizona Garnishment Process for Arizona Wage Garnishments and an Arizona Bank Garnishments:

It helps to understand what Arizona’s wage garnishment laws are and what the procedure is for garnishing your check and garnishing your bank account. First, with regard to earnings garnishments (i.e. wage garnishments), Arizona law allows creditors who have obtained a judgment to take up to 25% of your after-tax pay.  This means after all of your deductions are taken out of your check, your employer will be required to take an additional 25% out of your pay and provide that to the creditor who is garnishing your wages.  For example, if your paycheck is $2,000 after taxes, you would lose an additional $500 to the garnishment until the judgment against you is satisfied in full.  However, with the assistance of good attorney, you might be able to fight this type of garnishment and either have it dismissed (referred to in legal circles as “quashed”) or have it reduced to a smaller percentage.

There are three (3) main forms of garnishment.  There is a procedure to garnish wages, called a “wage garnishment.”  There is a procedure to garnish a bank account, called a “bank account garnishment.”  And, finally there is a general garnishment procedure that is used to attach (or seize) assets in the hands of a third party that belong to the person who owes you the money.

An Arizona garnishment may continue until the debt, attorney’s fees and court costs have been paid.  In some rare cases, if a creditor posts a bond with the court, it may garnish your bank accounts even before a judgment has been obtained.

There are specific legal steps that a creditor must follow in order to execute an Arizona wage garnishment or Arizona non-earnings (bank) garnishment.  A lawsuit must be filed, the summons must be served, all leading up to obtaining a judgment.  During the process you have time to halt the garnishment and protect your assets.  If you have been served a summons related to Arizona garnishment it is important to speak with an attorney immediately to protect yourself, your assets, and your wages.

Once a creditor has a judgment, it may proceed to take money which is owed to you.  To do this, the creditor will:

• Make demand for payment of the judgment.  If the creditor intends to garnish wages, the creditor must file an affidavit with the court that it has demanded payment for the amount due and that you have not agreed to pay the non-exempt portion of your wages.  This demand is not necessary for the garnishment of property other than wages. 

• Serve the garnishment on the employer or other party that owes you money.  When the creditor submits an application with the required affidavit, the court will issue a “Writ or Garnishment” which the creditor will deliver to your employer.  The creditor does not need to give you any notice before your employer is served, but must deliver a copy of the writ to you within three days after your employer creditor has been served. 

• The creditor gets a continuing lien on your wages.  The Writ of Garnishment is a continuing lien on the nonexempt portion of your pay earnings from the date that it is served on your employer.  Which means that from that point forward, your employer must surrender to the creditor 25% of your wages.   

Who is the Garnishee in the Arizona Garnishment Process? (Garnishee Beware)

The Garnishee is the party who is believed to be holding money belonging to the debtor. For example, and employer of a debtor would typically be the Garnishee.  Another example would be the bank that holds money of a debtor.  Thus, when a creditor seeks to collect against a debtor, it will typically name (and serve) the employer and/or the bank as the garnishee in an Arizona garnishment proceeding.

The debtor or the garnishee can request a hearing if there is reason to believe that there is some defect in the garnishment, that money is not owed to the judgment creditor or there is some other reason to object to the garnishment. The garnishee must prepare an answer to the writ of garnishment and must file it with the clerk of the court and also serve it on the debtor and on the judgment creditor. There are specific time periods involved, and if the proper action is not taken within the proper time period, serious adverse consequences may result.

Warning to Garnishees in Arizona (especially LLC’s and Corporations)

Remember that often the LLC or corporation is the named garnishee in an garnishment proceeding since the LLC and/or corporation is the employer of the debtor (and thus, may owe the debtor wages on a periodic basis). If the garnishee fails to answer the Arizona writ of garnishment or fails to answer on time, the Court could enter the default of the garnishee and then enter a judgment that holds the garnishee responsible for payment of the entire judgment obtained by the creditor against the debtor. This could be quite serious and expensive. By way of example, imagine if someone obtained a million-dollar judgment against your friend who works for you. If a writ of garnishment is served on you and you fail to answer it, the Court could enter your default for failure to answer and then enter a judgment against you  and your company, making you liable to pay the entire million dollar judgment that the creditor obtained against your friend.

Thus, if you have a corporation or an LLC and a writ of garnishment is served on the company, and the company fails to answer the writ, then a judgment could be entered against the LLC as punishment. The result is that the creditor would be able to seize assets owned by the company.  It is strongly advised that you contact Arizona wage garnishment lawyer Joseph Velez if you or your company are served with such a garnishment.

What You Can do to Stop a Garnishment

One way to stop a garnishment is to file bankruptcy.  Garnishment is stopped immediately when a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 is filed.  At the successful conclusion of the case, the court almost always discharges or cancels your debt.  A bankruptcy prevents and protects wages from garnishment and may be the better option for a debtor.  Along with bankruptcy, there are other measures that can be taken to prevent and cease a wage garnishment:

- Contest the Arizona garnishment if you have legal grounds. For example, if wages or a bank account have been garnished without proper notice to you from the court system.

- Contest the Judgment. We perform a thorough analysis to determine if you have viable defenses to the lawsuit, which might include statute of limitations issues, payment or other satisfaction of the alleged debt, erroneous contracts and paperwork, assignment errors and many other defenses.  Many times judgments are entered erroneously, for example, if you have not been give proper of the judgment against you, or if the lawsuit was never properly served upon you.  

- Negotiate a Settlement (Arizona garnishment Lawyer Joseph Velez can assist with evaluating your negotiation options). We expertly work with you and your creditor to obtain reductions in what you owe and terms you can manage. However, it is always best to call before the garnishment proceedings are instituted by the creditor. Debt negotiation is not simply asking to pay less money.  Effective debt negotiation requires much more than that.  It involves a complex analysis and game plan that factors in what laws apply and how they help you, legal defenses, your current debt/income profile, mistakes made by the creditor, time-value of money, and many other factors.  You must be able to provide a credible reason for the lender to accept less money. Leverage is how you do that. 

But remember, garnishments do not always result in the recovery of money or property.  A wrongful garnishment may result in the wrongdoer having to pay thousands of dollars in damages and attorney's fees to the people subjected to the wrongful garnishment. Contesting an Arizona garnishment can sometimes be successfully accomplished. The procedure is complex and complicated. A novice should not attempt it. If you are being threatened by a debt collector or are at risk of a garnishment, contact the Law Office of Joseph A. Velez for a consultation to assess your options.

Law Office Of

Joseph A. Velez


Real Estate & Business Law Attorney

The Law Office of Joseph Velez

Commercial Real Estate & Business Law Attorney

Scottsdale Financial Center

7272 E. Indian School Rd., Suite 111

Scottsdale, Arizona 85251


WARNING! - ALL PARTIES TO A GARNISHMENT ARE STRONGLY URGED TO OBTAIN LEGAL ADVICE FROM AN ATTORNEY. Garnishment procedures are governed by Arizona law and are extremely complicated. All parties involved must follow these procedures correctly. The Court may issue an order for monetary penalties against any party who does not proceed properly, including the judgment creditor.

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  3. Advantages of Having an Attorney

  4. So There is a Judgment Against You

  5. Effects on Credit Reports

  6. Advantages of Using an Attorney Over a Debt Negotiation Company

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Our law office represents clients throughout the Phoenix, Arizona area including the cities of Scottsdale, Maricopa, Mesa, Surprise, Paradise Valley, Avondale, Gilbert, Chandler, Glendale, Florence, New River, Fountain Hills, Peoria, Surprise, Queen Creek, Tempe, Sun City, Apache Junction, and Casa Grande. We serve the counties of Maricopa, Yavapai, Gila, Pinal, La Paz, Yuma, and Pima County.

DISCLAIMER: This site and any information contained herein are intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.

One hour initial office consultation fee is $295 for the matters discussed above.