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Judgment creditors and Ohio wage garnishments

When a person is delinquent in paying unsecured obligations such as credit card debts, the creditor may file a civil lawsuit in order to obtain a judgment for the amount of the debt owed as well as any associated legal fees. Upon receiving a judgment, the creditor may then seek to enforce it.

Judgment creditors often seek to levy bank accounts or, more commonly, seek a garnishment of the judgment debtor's wages. Ohio law provides that judgment creditors are allowed to enforce judgments in this manner. After receiving the judgment, the creditor then files an affidavit with the court stating the amount of judgment, the name and address of the debtor and the name of his or her employer.

The affidavit must further include a statement that required notice has been provided and that the judgment remains unpaid. The statement must also include an assertion that the judgment debt is not a part of a payment plan arranged by the debtor through a debt counseling agency. Judgment creditors are not allowed to garnish the wages of judgment debtors if the debtors have entered into a credit and debt counseling plan through such an agency.

In addition to debt and credit counseling repayment agreements, debtors also have the ability to prevent enforcement of judgments through filing for bankruptcy. When a bankruptcy petition is filed, all collection activities are subject to an automatic stay. This means that even if a creditor has obtained a judgment, it may not seek enforcement of it through a garnishment action. Creditors may also not file civil lawsuits to seek a judgment against a debtor in the event they are notified that a petition by the debtor has been filed. People who have significant debt may want to discuss with an attorney whether bankruptcy or debt counseling is a better option for them.

Source: Ohio laws and rules, "2716.03 Commencing proceeding for garnishment of personal earnings.", December 23, 2014

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