A “garnishment” is a court order that allows a creditor who is owed money to take the property of the debtor (the person who owes the money). Typically this means garnishing the debtor’s wages. See Iowa Code chapter 642 for more information on garnishments. If you do not understand this information or are unsure about how to collect your judgment, talk to an attorney.
Iowa law provides that only one execution can be in existence at a time. See Iowa Code section 626.3. If there is already a garnishment on you or the other party, you should talk to an attorney for options. Iowa Code section 642.21 describes what amounts may be garnished from a person’s earnings.
Iowa and federal law provide exemptions that allow people to protect basic necessities (minimum income and some property) from judgment creditors. Some types of income, like that from Social Security, unemployment benefits, and veterans’ benefits, are also protected. See Iowa Code sections 627 and 642. More information can be found in the Affidavit of Property Exempt from Execution, form 3.21 available on the Iowa Judicial Branch website at: https://www.iowacourts.gov/for-the-public/court-forms/.
If a garnishment has been placed on your wages, but you believe the garnishment is incorrect or should be stopped, you may file a “Motion to Quash Garnishment and Request for Hearing” (Iowa Court Rule form 3.20). This court form is available on the Iowa Judicial Branch website at: https://www.iowacourts.gov/for-the-public/court-forms/, click on Small Claims.
One option is a debtor examination. For more information on debtor exams, go to the Iowa Judicial Branch website at: https://www.iowacourts.gov/for-the-public/representing-yourself/collecting-a-judgment/.
A “debtor’s exam” may occur when someone has obtained a judgment against another party and has attempted to collect on that judgment, but the defendant or “judgment debtor” still has not paid the debt. It is a way to find out what property or assets the other party has that can be used to pay you for the judgment. The plaintiff or judgment creditor can question the judgment debtor at a hearing about the amount and location of the judgment debtor’s assets (e.g., bank accounts, real property). See Iowa Code chapter 630. More information is available on the Iowa Judicial Branch website at: https://www.iowacourts.gov/for-the-public/representing-yourself/collecting-a-judgment/. Judgment debtor exams can involve serious legal questions involving your rights to property and financial accounts, and you should talk to an attorney.
This information could be obtained through a debtor examination after a judgment has been obtained and the judgment creditor has unsuccessfully attempted an execution on that judgment. There are certain legal requirements that must be met before you get to that point, and you may wish to talk to an attorney.