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What is a Non-Wage Garnishment?

Aug. 14, 2019

A non-wage garnishment is the creditor’s attachment, post-judgment, of the judgment debtor’s property, other than wages, which is in the possession, custody or control of third parties. A non-wage garnishment is a collection tool that enables a creditor to step into the debtor’s shoes and recover the assets owed to the debtor. This is a limited proceeding that should be used with caution in that you can only initiate these types of proceedings if certain requirements are met. The upside to this type of proceeding is that creditors can get access to assets of greater value than what can be deducted from a debtor’s wages, assuming those assets are not exempt. An example of a non-wage garnishment is seeking a turnover of business equipment to satisfy all or part of a debt.

The creditor is the garnishor and the party whom the creditor believes is to be holding assets or property of or is indebted to, the judgment debtor. This party is known as the garnishee. Use of a non-wage garnishment is limited in scope and not every liability owed to a judgment debtor is within the reach of the affidavit for garnishment. Only two classes of assets may be garnished under a non-wage garnishment: (1) a debt for which the judgment debtor could have properly maintained a proceeding against the garnishee for; and (2) property belonging to the debtor in the possession, control or custody of the garnishee.

In addition, the debt must be legal in nature and not equitable. For example, equitable estates or beneficial interests are not subject to non-wage garnishments, only tangible, legal debts. The indebtedness must also be present due at the time the non-wage garnishment is filed. Further, the judgment creditor must have some likelihood to believe the garnishee is holding assets of the judgment debtor and is not allowed to go on a fishing expedition to attempt to discover the judgment creditors' assets. Unlike some post-judgment collection tools, if the non-wage garnishment does not satisfy the entire judgment, this proceeding cannot be converted into a citation to discover assets. Lastly, the non-wage garnishment creates a lien, but that lien is limited. The garnishment lien extends only to those funds in the hands of the garnishee at the time of service of the garnishment summons and remains a lien thereon pending the garnishment proceeding. Emphasis added. See 735 ILCS 5/12-707(a).