Georgia’s New Garnishment Code


By: A. Ali Sabzevari 

To collect money owed, judgment-creditors must typically file a garnishment action and serve the garnishee, such as an employer or financial institution, and the judgment-debtor.  The State of Georgia has a new garnishment code that took effect in May, 2016 that governs these garnishments.

Senate Bill 255 was passed by the Legislature to repeal and replace the existing garnishment code in Georgia.  This bill was drafted in response to a Georgia federal court finding that the existing garnishment code was unconstitutional in part because it did not provide adequate protection for claims of exempt funds.

The following are of some of the key changes in the new garnishment code:

  • There have been changes to garnishments filed by judgment creditors against financial institutions.  Under the new code, the applicable coverage period for a financial institution garnishment has been reduced from 30 days to just 5 days. Non-financial institution garnishments still have a 30 day coverage period.
  • The time-period for continuing wage garnishments is 180 days with the ability to refile.
  • The answer deadline for a financial institution has been reduced to 15 days after service.
  • The new code clarifies funds that are exempt and explains the process for recovery if taken improperly.
  • The pre-judgment garnishment code (O.C.G.A. § 18-4-40 through 18-4-48) has been repealed and prejudgment garnishment is no longer a remedy in Georgia.
  • When no claim has been filed and no traverse has been filed within 20 days after the garnishee files an answer (as opposed to 15 days under the old code), the judgment-creditor can apply for the funds deposited into the registry of the court.
  • Finally, the new code outlines what a judgment debtor should do if exempt money has been taken and also requires that a hearing be held within 10 days after an exemption claim is filed.

The new garnishment code contains many other changes that apply to judgment-creditors, garnishees, and judgment-debtors.  The attorneys at Freeman Mathis & Gary, LLP can help you navigate and streamline the process for garnishments and disputes, including those pertaining to exempt funds.

For more information regarding garnishments in Georgia, or if you have been served with or need to serve a garnishment, please contact A. Ali Sabzevari at [email protected] or 770.303.8633.