Kansas garnishment is a procedure whereby the wages, money or intangible property of a person can be seized or attached pursuant to an order of garnishment issued by the court. An order of garnishment follows a judgment in most cases. Creditors do have the option of requesting Kansas courts to issue a garnishment before a judgment, unless attempting to collect wages; however, most creditors will first seek a judgment and then the garnishment order. A creditor can request an order of garnishment 10 days after a judgment has been entered in the case against the debtor. A case is typically filed in the Limited Actions department of their Kansas District courthouse. A case is filed against a debtor when the debtor is not making the agreed upon payments.
Creditors usually attempt to garnish a debtor’s wages or bank accounts. A creditor attempting to garnish a bank account will request an order for Garnishment and send the order to the bank or credit union where the debtor’s bank account is located. The order will request the financial institution to withhold up to 110% of the balance owing under the judgment. The bank or credit union is able to withhold a $10 administrative fee for each account that is garnished in addition to the garnishment. The bank has 10 days to return their answer stating how much money is being held from the bank accounts.
If a bank account is held jointly with another person the funds are not automatically protected. The financial institution will hold up to 110% of the balance owing on the judgment regardless of joint account holders. The bank and creditor will not be liable if later the debtor proves the funds were not his. A creditor can attempt to garnish a bank account up to two times within a 30 day period for the same judgment. A debtor can stop future garnishments by filing for bankruptcy.
Creditors also attempt to garnish debtors’ wages if they are employed. An order of garnishment is sent to the debtor’s employer. The employer is required to withhold the non-exempt portion of debtor’s wages each pay period and send the withholding to the creditor. Typically the non-exempt portions of the wages are 25% of after tax earnings; however, there are exceptions that may apply. The employer will continue to withhold earnings until the judgment is paid in full or the creditor releases the garnishment. A debtor can also stop a garnishment by filing for bankruptcy. A creditor can only file one order of garnishment with a debtor’s employer within a 30 day period. The employer is allowed to withhold an administrative fee up to $10 per pay period not to exceed $20 within a 30 day period. These fees are withheld in addition to the order of garnishment.
The creditor is required to serve a notice on the debtor informing the debtor that a garnishment order has been issued against the debtor. The notice will inform the debtor of the right to assert a claim of exemption and will list the relevant exemptions. If an exemption applies, the debtor can request a hearing on the exemption issue. The request for hearing must be made within 10 days of being served with the notice. There are specific steps the debtor must follow when requesting a hearing regarding serving notice of the request on the creditor or creditor’s attorney. The debtor will need to attend the hearing and prove why the property is exempt. The judge will enter an order on the exemption request. There is also an opportunity for a debtor to request a hearing disputing information provided in the answer filled out by the financial institution or employer. Again, the debtor must follow very specific steps to request a hearing.
Garnishments can wreck havoc on a debtor’s already tight budget. If you believe you will be faced with a garnishment on your wages or bank accounts or are already experiencing the difficulty a garnishment creates, please contact our Kansas bankruptcy attorneys. We offer free initial bankruptcy consultations to help you determine whether bankruptcy is the best option for you.