On September 8, 2015, Judge Shoob of the Northern District of Georgia ruled that certain areas of Georgia’s garnishment laws were unconstitutional because they provided inadequate due process to debtors with respect to funds exempt from garnishment. Only garnishments of bank accounts are affected, not continuing wage garnishments. Although the ruling was directed to the Clerk of the State Court of Gwinnett County, it leaves the other counties in Georgia in an uncertain position as to their garnishment processes.
Since the ruling, the Council of State Court Judges and Council of Magistrate Court Judges have proposed a uniform rule but there are concerns about such a rule. The Georgia legislature is already planning to have a bill ready when the General Assembly returns in January 2016, but that won’t go into effect until later in 2016, at the earliest. What is a creditor to do until a new law takes effect?
Different counties are addressing the issue in different ways. Some counties have put the garnishment process on hold. Others are requiring proof of notice to the person being garnishment and the institution folding the money that some funds may be exempt, and a hearing is guaranteed if someone challenges the garnishment. And some counties are still conducting business as usual.
It’s a challenging landscape, especially for unrepresented creditors. Kealy Law can help you and your business navigate these obstacles. Please call to find out how!