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Judgment Collection: What to Know When Garnishing Wages or Bank Accounts in New York

If you have won a judgment in New York, enforcing it requires strategy, diligence, creativity, and patience. Also, you need to be educated about the steps you can take to collect on a judgment in New York. After being awarded a valid judgment, what should you do next?

To successfully collect a judgment, it is often in your best interest to work with a collection attorney. Your lawyer will evaluate your judgment’s collectability as well as discuss the collection prospect and the possible cost with you. This way, you can make informed decisions on collection approaches. One of the collection strategies your attorney may recommend is wage or bank account garnishment, which works by taking out a certain percentage of the debtor’s wages.

Should You Garnish Wages?

When you inform the debtor about your intention to collect, they may want to pay off the judgment to avoid the embarrassment and inconvenience associated with having their salary reduced. Also, they may think they could lose their employer’s favor when this happens. However, garnishing wages can also push them to quit their job or file for bankruptcy. If the debt is meant to pay child support, bankruptcy will not eliminate the obligation of the debtor to pay you. 

Steps for Garnishing Wages

To successfully garnish wages, you must exert efforts. Often, you will need to provide the sheriff with information on the debtor’s place of employment. The officer will serve the garnishment order on your debtor’s employer and the latter must withhold the requested amount of money you can collect. The employer has fifteen days to begin the payment and notify the employee in question about the serving of a garnishment. 

Bank Account Garnishments

Often, garnishing bank accounts for unpaid judgment requirements is possible when the debtor does respond to repeated debt settlement requests. Although state and federal laws protect wages before their transfer to the bank accounts of employees, wages are among the funds that can be seized when deposited in a bank account. But before you can restrain or levy against the debtor’s bank account, there are steps you should take. 

Unless there are exempt funds, you can seize any amount more than $1, 950 in the debtor’s account. If an account includes income exempt from creditors such as deposited government benefits, the protected amount can go up to $2, 625. Thus, banks need to analyze funds associated with an account and make sure they do not include exempt funds. 

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