Garnishment Hearings, Garnished Funds, and Bankruptcy in Virginia
If you received a garnishment summons, then a judgment has already been entered and will appear on your credit. In Virginia, the court date on the garnishment summons is generally referred to as the "return date". There is no hearing on that date unless you file for an exemption. It is generally just a date which indicates the end of the "garnishment cycle", the dated for the garnished funds to be provided to the court by your bank or employer and the date that the court will turn over any funds to the judgment creditor.
If you are going to settle the debt, you need to make sure that the creditor or their attorney signs the "release" on the garnishment summons. They should handle notifying the court but you should get an extra copy of the release and make sure it is received by either the bank, your employer or the entity they were attempting to garnish. This will expedite the release of the garnishment.
So regardless of whether you pay, there will be no hearing on the return date unless you file something with the court. Therefore, you do not need to attend.
If you hope to recover any garnished funds by filing bankruptcy you must file your case before the return date and notify the court that issued the judgment of the filing before the return date. If the funds are turned over to the creditor before the notice is received by the court it is difficult and time consuming to get them back.
Additionally, in your bankruptcy you need to list the garnished funds as an asset in Schedule B and exempt or protect them in Schedule C. Depending on the source of the funds, the most common exemption is the Homestead Exemption under 34-4 of the Code of Virginia. This requires the filing of a "Homestead Deed" in the city or county you live in. File the deed within 5 days of your bankruptcy 341 meeting of creditors and listed the amount of garnished funds on the deed to protect them. Generally, if the matter is handled properly the garnished funds will be returned by the bankruptcy trustee in about 30 days from the date of filing. Find additional information on homestead deeds at https://www.VirginiaHomesteadDeed.com.