Garnish: A separate legal process by which someone with a judgment begins to take some of your wages. In other words, for a garnishment to begin, the company must have already gotten a judgment from you.

They file garnishment proceedings upon your employer or the holder of some other sort of asset of yours. Thus, your employer, your bank, or someone holding money for you for some other reason could get served with garnishment papers. Whoever is served must follow very specific rules regarding what they can give the debt collector. There are state and federal exemptions from collection, although it may be up to you to assert them.

In the county in which I live, the Sheriff’s office in the courthouse building has information regarding the laws of how much can be taken from you, and I would guess that most jurisdictions are similar. Or go to the State Law Digest. Again, in order to garnish your wages, the debt collector must first obtain a judgment—so any claim by a debt collector that he will “garnish your wages” is deceptive unless there is already a judgment against you. Do not be intimidated. The making of the threat may constitute a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Not all funds are subject to garnishment or attachment, notably certain pension or disability funds. If your source of income is some sort of state or federal aid, it is likely also not subject to attachment or garnishment.

Garnishing: See definition of garnish. Garnishing is a separate legal proceeding, so it is not exactly automatic when a judgment is rendered against you. Garnishing is a legal proceeding aimed at the people who owe you money (such as your employer); garnishing is the interception of that person’s payment to you of money that is owed to you, typically wages. When the money being sought is in the bank, the process is sometimes called “attaching” the account.

Garnishment: The process of garnishing your wages.

Garnishments department: The part of the court devoted to helping people with judgments collect on those judgments by instituting claims against your employer or other holder of your assets. A garnishment is not adversary in the sense most court cases are – it’s just the mechanism people with judgments use to get their money.