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Serving Writ of Garnishment Rules - Missing documents as Defendant?

Vancouver, WA |

I received via Certified Mail (4/26/13) an Application For Writ of Garnishment & Writ of Garnishment, both stamped by local county court 3/8/13. These are the only papers I've ever received, I haven't moved, haven't changed jobs nor phone #. The garnishment is for a monetary judgement from divorce 4 yrs ago - $1500 for atty's fees to be awarded to other party - NOT SPOUSAL MAINTENANCE. There is no record of service or summons, nothing stating I was supposed to go to court.
The payroll office states they were going to garnish this week, thankfully talked them out of it. I didnt have any time to prepare a response, and I believe I should have an opportunity to respond.
Debt was "sold" by Creditor to a Judgement Recovery Service.
Is this illegal and how do I take this person to court?

Attorney Answers 3

Posted

This garnishment action is likely based on a judgment that was entered against you. As long as the judgment is valid, then the judgment creditor has the right to garnish.

For detailed advice on your circumstances, including a review of the documentation that you received, consider investing in a consultation with an attorney that handles debtor creditor matters. This will give you peace of mind in knowing your rights and obligations in this situation.

Do you remember having a judgment entered against you for attorney fees?

Tim L. Eblen
www.eblenfreed.com

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Asker

Posted

Thanks for your help. The only action has been the written portion stating I owed $1500 for atty's fees "as a judgement" in the divorce decree. I wasn't given anything else as far as specific paperwork for that amount due. I'll copy/paste what I responded to another answer: Thank you. Ok, so I'm understanding that I don't need to be notified in advance of having wages garnished? Also, it's not a collection agency, per se. It's a judgement recovery service, located in another state. They aren't licensed and most state bars aren't fond of them saying that they should have to be licensed as collection agencies. It's basically a guy that had her sign over the debt to him, so now he "owns" the debt and has a Writ of Garnishment. He calls himself the Assignee of Record. Paying the debt originally wouldn't have been such an ordeal, but the other party "fell of the face of the earth", her attorney couldn't reach her, she couldn't be contacted to sign important documents related to the divorce, etc. A paper was to be signed by Creditor to state debt was paid, but if I couldn't locate Creditor, then there was no way to pay. This action recently is the first contact since 2009.

Posted

The judgment, as you indicate, was entered 4 years ago. That means that the creditor can enforce that judgment any time within 10 years. It can also be renewed once for another 10 years - giving the creditor a total of 20 years to enforce the judgment. The application for a writ of garnishment does not require notice to you or a hearing. The creditor just applies for it once it wants to collect the judgment. The original creditor (the attorney in the divorce) transferred the debt to a collection agency (Judgment Recovery). That's legal. About the only thing you can do at this point is make sure agency is licensed as a collection agency in WA and has the right to collect the debt. Here's a link to where you can find that out. http://bls.dor.wa.gov/LicenseSearch/

The answers to these questions may be different depending on your individual circumstance and should not be considered as legal advice or the establishment of an attorney-client relationship.

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Posted

Thank you. Ok, so I'm understanding that I don't need to be notified in advance of having wages garnished? Also, it's not a collection agency, per se. It's a judgement recovery service, located in another state. They aren't licensed and most state bars aren't fond of them saying that they should have to be licensed as collection agencies. It's basically a guy that had her sign over the debt to him, so now he "owns" the debt and has a Writ of Garnishment. He calls himself the Assignee of Record. Paying the debt originally wouldn't have been such an ordeal, but the other party "fell of the face of the earth", her attorney couldn't reach her, she couldn't be contacted to sign important documents related to the divorce, etc. A paper was to be signed by Creditor to state debt was paid, but if I couldn't locate Creditor, then there was no way to pay. This action recently is the first contact since 2009.

Susanne Ruiz Rodriguez

Susanne Ruiz Rodriguez

Posted

Under Washington law, "any person" who collects a debt is subject to the Collection Agency Act - RCW.19.16. Doesn't matter if it's just one person. Also, if an individual buys a debt and then uses a fictitious name (like Judgment Recovery), they are also subject to the CAA. It's not a state bar issue, it's the law that applies to everyone. Wrongful debt collection (including garnishment) is a violation and is punishable by fines, damages, and even imprisonment up to a year. You should contact an attorney to look over all the paperwork carefully and see if this garnishment qualifies as a violation.

Posted

I agree with my colleagues, but I'll add that the time to substantively defend the lawsuit has almost certainly passed. Though you may not remember being served, someone that either lived with you, or at your last known address was served papers. If you are struggling with other debts, you should consider calling a local and experienced bankruptcy attorney for a free consultation. It may very well be worth your while.

Please note that the above is not intended as legal advice, it is for educational purposes only. No attorney-client relationship is created or is intended to be created hereby. You should contact a local attorney to discuss and to obtain legal advice

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