Arizona law allows creditors who have obtained judgment to take up
to one-fourth of your after-tax pay directly from your employer. A
wage garnishment may continue until the debt, attorney's fees and
court costs have been paid. If a creditor posts a bond with the
court, it may garnish your bank accounts even before a judgment has
Garnishment is stopped immediately when a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13
is filed. At the successful conclusion of the case, the court
discharges, or cancels, your debt.
What stops garnishment? See Protection
What if you had a prior bankruptcy within the last year?
See the Caution on the
Protection from Creditors page.
What if you had a prior bankruptcy within the last 8 years?
See Who is Eligible.
How a Creditor Garnishes
Wages in Arizona
Garnishment is a legal proceeding which allows a creditor to take
money owed to you. Usually the creditor takes money from your
paycheck, but the creditor could garnish bank accounts, accounts
receivable if you are in business, shares of stock in a corporation,
or, almost anything else which is owed to you.
To be able to garnish wages or anything else, the creditor must
obtain a judgment, and then serve garnishment papers on the person,
such as your employer, that owes money to you.
Obtaining the Judgment. The general steps for a creditor
to obtain a judgment in Arizona are:
- File a lawsuit. The creditor, who is called the
"plaintiff" by the court, starts the suit by taking a
document to the court clerk in which he complains that you have
not paid your bill. This document is called the
- Serve the summons. When the suit is filed, the
court issues a summons which must be delivered to, or
"served" on you. It will tell you what you have
to do to defend your self from the complaint. In the court
papers, you will be called the "defendant." The
summons is ordinarily be delivered in person, by a sheriff or
his deputy, or by a person authorized by the court to deliver
summons (a "private process server"), but may be
served by mail with a return receipt if you are out of the
state. The summons will state the amount of time from the
delivery of the summons--ordinarily twenty days from the
date that the summons was delivered to you--that you have in
which to file an answer with the court. [ARCP,
Rules 4, 4.1, 4.2; Rule
- Apply for Default. If you do not answer the
complaint within the allowed time, the plaintiff creditor will
apply to have you default (failure to answer) noted in the court
record, and mail a copy to you if they know your mailing
address. The clerk of the court will enter the default on
the court records ten days after the application was
- Obtain a Judgment. If the complaint is for a sum which
can be calculated, the plaintiff creditor can ask the court to
enter a judgment without a hearing or any further notice to you.
Rule 55(b), 5(a)]
Garnishment. Once a creditor has a judgment, it may
proceed to take money which is owed to you. To do this, the
- Make demand for payment of the judgment. If the
creditor intends to garnish wages, the creditor must make an
affidavit to the court that it has demanded payment for the
amount due and that you have not agreed or continued 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 of 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. [ARS
- 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. [ARS
The Arizona Rules of Civil Procedure (ARCP) may be accessed at WestLaw.com.
ACRP Rules links are to that site, and may require you to provide
information to that site to obtain access.
Links to Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS) are to the web site of
Arizona Legislative Computer Service of the Arizona State
Legislature, ALIS Online.