When a judgment creditor garnishes your bank account in Texas, can you dissolve the garnishment and get your money back?
Bank Account Garnishments in Texas
In Texas, when a creditor obtains a judgment against you, it is allowed to garnish your bank account(s) to satisfy the judgment. Legally, a judgment creditor can garnish any account that has your name on, even if the account is a joint account with a third party.
Exceptions, however, exist. There are certain sources of funds—social security and disability are examples—that are exempt (protected) from garnishment. But unless an exemption applies, any money in any account that has your name on it is subject to garnishment.
A Garnishment is a New Lawsuit—Against the Bank
When a judgment creditor is garnishing your bank account, they don’t sue you, they sue your bank.
Your bank, as the defendant in the garnishment, gets served with the garnishment lawsuit and is required to Answer it on your behalf. Unfortunately, your bank will charge you for this and will deduct its legal fees from your account.
Your Bank Account Gets Frozen Immediately, But Your Funds Are Not Released to the Judgment Creditor Until a Later Date
When your bank receives the writ of garnishment, it will freeze your account immediately. Once your account is frozen, your funds are not available to you. So you cannot use your debit card or withdraw any money or or pay any bills.
Even though your account is frozen, your money is still in your account and will remain in your account until such time as the court orders your bank to pay the money to the judgment creditor.
The good news for you is that it usually takes at least 3-4 weeks, and sometimes longer, before the court orders your bank to pay the creditor. And this delay gives you time to dispute, and try to defeat, the garnishment.
As Long As Your Money Is Still in Your Account, You May Be Able to Get It Back
As long as the court has not yet ordered your bank to pay the creditor, you can intervene in the garnishment and try to get it dissolved. But once the court orders your bank to pay the creditor, the garnishment is complete, and you cannot recover your money after that.
Garnishments Can Often Be Defeated For Shoddy Paperwork
Garnishment laws are strict, and they have to be strictly followed.
By law, creditors are required to search for other assets first, BEFORE they resort to garnishment. And they are required to detail their search efforts in an affidavit that is part of their garnishment paperwork.
In practice, many collections law firms don’t even bother to look for other assets before resorting to garnishment, much less do they provide any detail as to their search efforts.
Many garnishment affidavits say only this:
“Within my knowledge, Defendant does not possess property in Texas subject to execution sufficient to satisfy the judgment. The garnishment is not sought to injure Debtor or garnishee.”
This verbiage is lifted straight from the garnishment statute. If the affidavit that is part of your garnishment says this, and only this, then the affidavit is legally defective, and you may be entitled to dissolve the garnishment and get your money back.
If There Are No Grounds to Dissolve the Garnishment, You May Be Able to Get Your Money Back by Filing Bankruptcy
If you cannot get your garnishment dissolved, then it may make sense to look into filing bankruptcy, particularly if you have other debts in addition to the judgment debt.
If you are going to file bankruptcy, you need to do it quickly, before the bank releases your funds to the judgment creditor. As long as you file bankruptcy before the bank pays the creditor, the bankruptcy stay will freeze the garnishment, and you will get your money back later.
Contact Us ASAP For a Free Consultation
If your bank account has been garnished, then time is of the essence. Whatever you do, you need to do it quickly. Once the bank releases your money to the judgment creditor, you cannot get it back.
If you have a copy of the garnishment papers, you can upload them through the contact box at left. Or you can scan them and e-mail them directly to James Heston at James@HestonCiment.com. Or you can fax them to 713-513-5395.
If you don’t have a copy of the garnishment papers, give us a call or e-mail me directly, and I’ll tell you how you can get a copy of the papers. Also, depending on what county you live in, I may be able to get a copy of the garnishment papers from the court’s website.
So give us a call or fill out the contact for at the left. We will review your situation with you and tell you what we can do to help you.