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After going through the time and expense of suing someone, say you finally obtain a judgment against that person. What then? It is unlikely that person will simply hand you a check for the money that they owe you. More than likely, you will need to take action to collect it if the other party will not voluntarily pay the judgment amount. A common misconception that many clients have is the court will collect their judgment for them. That is not the case. The burden is on you to locate the other party's assets and try to seize them in satisfaction of your judgment. However, the court will issue the orders and other documents required to force the debtor to pay. One of those ways is called garnishment. This is when you get a court order called a Writ of Garnishment to obtain a portion of the defendant's wages. In order to garnish wages you must know the name and address of the employer of the person you have the judgment against.
Garnishment proceedings are generally considered special proceedings in the pending state court action. They are, for all intents and purposes, a separate action or suit against the person garnished. NRS Chapter 31 governs, among other things, pre- and post-judgment garnishment proceedings. Under that chapter, writs of garnishment must be served in the same manner as a summons in a civil action, which gives the court jurisdiction to proceed against your debtor's employer also known as a "garnishee" or "garnishee defendant." Accordingly, garnishees who are properly served or appear formally become parties of record to the garnishment proceeding.
When a writ of garnishment is served, the garnishee defendant then has 20 days to answer statutorily specified interrogatories. If a properly served garnishee defendant fails to answer the interrogatories, the court may enter judgment for the garnished amount in favor of the defendant for the use of the plaintiff against the garnishee. In other words, the writ of garnishment warns the employer that failure to answer the interrogatories will result in a default judgment against the employer itself!
If the garnishee answers as required by the writ, you may, within 20 days after the expiration of the time allowed for the filing of such answer, object to the whole or any part thereof by an affidavit if you feel that the garnishee's answers are not accurate. You may also in your objection allege any matters which would charge the garnishee with liability. However, if you fail to object within the time allowed, you shall be deemed to have accepted the answer of the garnishee as true.
Generally, a writ of garnishment only addresses the extent to which the garnishee has personal property of the judgment debtor in the garnishee's possession at the time of service of the writ of garnishment. Only writs of garnishment applicable to earnings are deemed to continue beyond the date of service. If the garnishee indicates that the garnishee is the employer of the defendant, the writ of garnishment is deemed to continue for a period of 120 days from service or until satisfied, whichever is earlier. Note, if you are just attaching property such as an auto or house, or for a money item such as the contents of a cash drawer or bank account, the execution is a one-time action, and must be re-filed each time. When a writ of garnishment for earnings is served upon an employer, the maximum amount of the aggregate disposable earnings of a person which are subject to garnishment may not exceed twenty-five percent (25%) of the person's disposable earnings for the relevant workweek. Writs against earnings are enforceable only against employers. What is interesting is that there is no definition under NRS Chapter 31 for who an "employer" is. This could become a source of dispute.
The judgment collection process can become technical. The attorneys at our firm can consult with you to provide the legal advice, guidance and expertise necessary to assist you with your case.
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