The first issue is whether the funds are yours. If the account is joint and the deposited funds belong to the other owner, then that person needs to demonstrate it is theirs.
Next, you need to determine whether any funds are exempt. You have the burden of proving an exemption. You can claim $1,000 as exempt regardless of the source. For all other exemptions, you need to demonstrate that the funds can from an exempt source (e.g., social security, unemployment, child support).
Those are the most immediate bases to get funds released. You can file an application in court and the clerk should be able to give you the forms.
Regardless of how quickly you can get the funds released, it seems that you need to move to vacate the default judgment. Even if you can't get funds immediately released, once the judgment is vacated, the levy will be lifted. One issue relevant to such a motion is that you were not served but there are a host of other issues which you should explore with an attorney.
There are several NJ attorneys who respond to AVVO questions who could help but AVVO rules prohibit responders from soliciting questioners. I suggest you look at AVVO profiles of the attorneys. You can also look at the Find A Lawyer feature on www.naca.net (National Association of Consumer Advocates).
Generally an account is "frozen" in response to a court-ordered Writ of Execution/Levy. A person with a frozen account in NJ can exempt $1000 by asserting her statutory exemption rights. To get the remaining funds released, that won't happen without permission from the plaintiff's attorney or by court order. (If it was easy for a judgment debtor to somehow cause nonexempt funds to be released, then there would not be levies. The whole purpose of the levy is to get AND keep the money.)
Nevertheless, one can try to negotiate with plaintiff's attorney a settlement. To get a court order, she will have to convince the court that she was not, in fact, served process, through a Motion to Vacate Default Judgment. In that motion, she will have to establish where process was served, that she could not be found there, and that, in fact, she could be found only somewhere else. If granted, that generally will "undo" the levy.
Disclaimer: Nothing stated herein is legal advice. For legal advice, consult an attorney; I am not your attorney at this time. This response may constitute ATTORNEY ADVERTISING which has not been approved by the Supreme Courts of New Jersey or Pennsylvania or the Court of Appeals of Maryland. I am a federally-designated “debt relief agency” that provides, where appropriate, relief under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.
More info is needed as to whether this bank account is jointly owned, whether you receive government funds. In addition, is this your account, or a third party's account? The sheriff usually sends the debtor notice that your account has been levied upon.
Your best bet is to obtain an attorney and have the attorney talk to the creditor's attorney for the paperwork.
The information is for general information purposes only. Nothing from this comment should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information does not create and does not constitute an attorney-client relationship or a prospective attorney relationship.