14
Feb
12

Garnishment Answers are no longer the “practice of law” – A Traverse still requires attorney

Business Entities Again Allowed to File Answers in Garnishment Actions in Georgia Without Need For Georgia Attorney

The Supreme Court of Georgia ruled that the filing of an answer in a garnishment action was the practice of law requiring an attorney.  Last week, Georgia Governor Deal signed a bill which reversed that decision. The bill may be read here.

Effective immediately, any authorized officer or employee of a business entity of any type, other than a natural person, is authorized to execute and file a garnishment answer. Such actions are no longer considered the unauthorized practice of law.  However, if a traverse or claim is filed against the Answer in a court of record, an attorney is required to represent the entity in further garnishment proceedings.

Some practice tips to remember:

 

It will no longer require an attorney to respond to garnishment.

–    You must always file an Answer – even if you have no money subject to the garnishment and even if the employee is no longer or never was employed by your company;

 –    Orders for continuing garnishment are in effect for 179 days after service of the summons. During this time, you are required to file an Answer every 30-45 day until the debt is extinguished, up to the 179 day period;

 –    If an employer fails to answer a summons of garnishment for any reason, it risks being responsible for the full amount of the Defendant’s debt, notwithstanding whether or not the garnishee has any funds owing the Defendant that could be subject to garnishment;

–    If a Traverse or Claim is filed against your Answer, a Georgia Licensed Attorney is required to represent the business entity in further garnishment proceedings;

 –    If you receive an Order of Default, contact outside counsel as soon as possible, as you have only sixty (60) days to open the default and file an Answer to limit the Company’s liability for the debt.

If you have any questions, a great person to contact for further guidance on this issue is Robert S. Thompson at Hawkins Parnell Thackston & Young, LLC.

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