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Garnishment – Kentucky law

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Kentucky Revised Statutes (KRS) – Chapter 425

As of November 10, 2008
Source: Kentucky Legislature

KRS 425.501 – Proceedings for obtaining order of garnishment.

  • (1) Any person in whose favor a final judgment in personam has been entered in any court of record of this state may, upon the filing of an affidavit by him or his agent or attorney in the office of the clerk of the court in which the judgment was entered, and in the same cause in which said judgment was obtained showing the date of the judgment and the amount due thereon, and that one (1) or more named persons hold property belonging to, or are indebted to, the judgment debtor, obtain an order of garnishment to be served in accordance with the Rules of Civil Procedure.
  • (2) The judgment plaintiff shall not be required to execute bond to obtain the order.
  • (3) The order of garnishment shall be served on the persons named as garnishees, and in addition a copy thereof shall be delivered by the garnishee to the judgment debtor or mailed to him at his last known address, along with a processing fee in the amount of ten dollars ($10) paid by the judgment plaintiff. The processing fee may be retained by the garnishee regardless of whether the court finds that the garnishee was or was not, at the time of service of the order upon him, possessed of any property of the judgment debtor.
  • (4) The judgment debtor may appear and claim the exemption of any property or debt that is exempt from execution, and on proof of exemption the garnishment shall be discharged as to the exempt property or debt.
  • (5) If the court finds that the garnishee was, at the time of service of the order upon him, possessed of any property of the judgment debtor, or was indebted to him, and the property or debt is not exempt from execution, the court shall order the property or the proceeds of the debt applied upon the judgment.
  • (6) Subsequent orders of garnishment against the same or other garnishees may be issued in the same manner until the judgment is satisfied.
  • (7) The provisions of KRS Chapter 427 shall, as far as applicable, govern proceedings under the order.
  • (8) The order of garnishment shall be served in accordance with the Rules of Civil Procedure. It shall summon the garnishees to answer in the action in the manner and at the time required for an answer by the Rules of Civil Procedure, and to make due return thereof.

Effective: July 12, 2006
History: Amended 2006 Ky. Acts ch. 183, sec. 15, effective July 12, 2006. — Amended 1984 Ky. Acts ch. 158, sec. 8, effective July 13, 1984. — Created 1976 Ky. Acts ch. 91, sec. 30.

KRS 425.506 – Attachment or garnishment of earnings — Priority — Order.

  • (1) An order of garnishment of earnings, as defined in KRS 427.005, shall create a lien on all nonexempt earnings earned during the pay period in which the order is served on the employer and during those succeeding pay periods which may be designated by the order.
  • (2) Orders of attachment or garnishment of earnings shall have priority according to the date of service on the employer, each inferior order taking effect as if served at the commencement of the next succeeding pay period not subject to a prior order; provided that no creditor shall cause two (2) orders to be served on the employer against the same employee in the same pay period.
  • (3) The order shall be served on the employer in triplicate and shall have printed thereon an explanation of subsections (1) and (2) of this section, the percentage of the disposable earnings, as defined in KRS 427.005, exempted from the order by subsection (2) of KRS 427.010, and the percentage to be forwarded to the court.
  • (4) The order shall have printed thereon the following directions to the employer:
    • (a) That a copy of the order shall be delivered to the employee, a copy retained by the employer for his records, and a copy returned by the employer to the court.
    • (b) That on the reverse side of the court copy shall be stated, under oath by the employer, the gross amount of earnings and the nonexempt amount of disposable earnings for the designated pay periods subject to the order. If no funds are due, the reasons therefor shall be given.
    • (c) That the court copy of the order and the nonexempt amount of disposable earnings shall be forwarded to the court.

Effective: July 15, 1988
History: Amended 1988 Ky. Acts ch. 103, sec. 1, effective July 15, 1988. — Created 1976 Ky. Acts ch. 91, sec. 31.

KRS 425.511 – Appearance of garnishee — Failure to appear.

  • (1) Each garnishee summoned shall appear. The appearance may be in person; or by the affidavit of the garnishee, served and filed in the manner and at the time required for an answer by the Rules of Civil Procedure, disclosing truly the sum owing by him to the defendant, whether due or not, and the property of the defendant in the possession or under the control of the garnishee; and, in the case of a corporation, any shares of stocks therein held by or for the benefit of the defendant, at or after the service of the order of attachment.
  • (2) If such garnishee or officer make default, by not appearing, the court may, on the motion of the plaintiff, compel him to appear in person for examination, by process as in cases of contempt; or it may hear proof of any debt owing or property held by the garnishee to or for the defendant, and make such order in relation thereto as if what is so proved had appeared on the examination of the garnishee or officer.

History: Created 1976 Ky. Acts ch. 91, sec. 32.

KRS 425.516 – Payment by garnishee — Costs.

The garnishee may pay the money owing to the defendant by him, not exceeding the plaintiff’s claim and costs, to the sheriff having in his hands the order of attachment, or into the court or to such person as the court may direct in accordance with the Rules of Civil Procedure; and to that extent he shall be discharged from liability to the defendant. He shall not be subjected to costs beyond those caused by his resistance of the claim against him; and, if he discloses the property of the defendant in his hands, or the true sum owing by him, and delivers or pays the same to the sheriff, or according to the order of the court, he shall be allowed his costs.

Effective: July 13, 1984
History: Amended 1984 Ky. Acts ch. 158, sec. 9, effective July 13, 1984. — Created 1976 Ky. Acts ch. 91, sec. 33.

KRD 425.521 – Procedure if garnishee indebted to defendant.

If a garnishee, or officer of a corporation summoned as a garnishee, appear in person, he may be examined on oath; and, if it be discovered on such examination that, at the service of the order of attachment upon him, he or the corporation was possessed of any property of the defendant, or was indebted to him, the court may order the delivery of such property, and the payment, or security for the payment, of the sum owing by the garnishee, into court, or to such person as it may direct–who shall give bond, with security, for the same; or the court may permit the garnishee to retain the property or the sum owing upon the execution of a bond with one (1) or more sufficient sureties, to the effect that the sum shall be paid, or the property be forthcoming, as the court may direct. Performance of such bonds, for the forthcoming of property, may be enforced, as in cases of contempt; upon such bonds for payment of money, execution may be issued as upon replevin bonds.

History: Created 1976 Ky. Acts ch. 91, sec. 34.

KRS 425.526 – Action by plaintiff against garnishee — Attachment.

If a garnishee fails to make a disclosure satisfactory to the plaintiff, the latter may bring an action against him, by petition or amended petition, in the same manner, and the proceedings therein shall be the same as in other actions; and the plaintiff may procure an order of attachment in the same manner, and the proceedings thereupon shall be the same, as is hereinbefore and hereinafter authorized concerning attachments–except that the plaintiff’s affidavit shall state, in addition to the facts required to be stated in KRS 425.301(3), the sum which the defendant owes to the plaintiff’s debtor; and the plaintiff shall not be entitled to attach for or recover more than that sum and costs nor more than the amount of the plaintiff’s claim against his debtor and costs.

History: Created 1976 Ky. Acts ch. 91, sec. 35.


Written by Tom Fox

January 5, 2009 at 5:16 pm

36 Responses

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  1. Can a person have two garnishments at a time? I mean can you have student loans being taken out by garnishment and then a furniture store garnishs you and a 1400.00 check has almost 400.00 in taxes taken out, 200.00 in student loans taken out and then 350.00 taken out for a furniture store. I can’t make it on whats left.

    Leisa VanHook

    February 6, 2009 at 12:17 am

  2. Leisa –

    Take a look at KRS 427.010 “Exempt personal property and disposable earnings of individual debtors.” Specifically, subsection 2,

    “Except as provided in subsection (3) of this section and KRS 427.050, the maximum part of the aggregate disposable earnings of an individual for any workweek which is subjected to garnishment may not exceed the lesser of either:
    (a) Twenty-five percent (25%) of his disposable earnings for that week, or . . . . ”

    It would seem that the maximum amount that can be garnished in total, however many creditors or separate debts, is 25% of your after-tax take-home pay.

    Hope that helps.



    February 6, 2009 at 1:17 am

  3. Are unemployment insurance benefits garnishable?? That is my only income at this time and a creditor wants to arbitrate with me through the National Arbitration Forum. Also, is my vehicle exempt from garnishment if I owe a creditor? It is not paid for….I owe $11,000 and my debt is $3,800.

    I tried to find information on the KRS website.
    Any information is helpful.




    February 12, 2009 at 10:54 pm

  4. Hi Nikki –

    Kentucky Revised Statute 425.501 (Proceedings for obtaining order of garnishment.) Section (1) provides:

    “Any person in whose favor a final judgment in personam has been entered in any court of record of this state may . . . obtain an order of garnishment . . . . “

    What this means is that a creditor must first take you to court (sue you) and win a court judgment BEFORE seeking garnishment. Generally, this cannot happen without your knowledge and an opportunity to present your side of the story.

    If the creditor is seeking arbitration of the debt, that means the creditor does not have the required court judgment, and cannot at this time seek any garnishment at all.

    Arbitration is a a faster and cheaper way for this creditor to get a judgment against you.

    So, you might not want to go along with it.

    Stay on top of the situation. Read all the letters they send you, especially certified letters. There is little advantage to talking to the debt collectors on the phone. I think it is better to have all communications with your creditor to be in writing.

    Also remember that everything is negotiable. Just because they say you owe $3800 does not mean that is the right amount. It needs to be questioned and verified as accurate and legal. Also, the creditor is very likely to agree to accept less. For example, if you could scrape together $1900 (50%) – or maybe less – in cash right now, the creditor might settle for that – BUT ONLY WITH THE PROPER WRITTEN DOCUMENTATION.

    Sadly, debt collectors have been known to lie through their teeth sometimes – thus written communications and not phone discussions.


    February 13, 2009 at 4:27 pm

  5. i received a notice of wage garnishment in the mail..can i stil deal with the collection agency for a settlement if i pay them cash now?


    May 13, 2009 at 1:39 am

  6. When a garnishment is served on the garnishee and there is other garnishments in place, what happens? Is the garnishment paid until the garnishment is paid in full then the next garn starts or is there a time period that each garnishment is good for then they rotate?

    lisa spencer

    May 29, 2009 at 4:23 pm

  7. If an employee receives a bonus, how much is exempt from garnishment in the state of Kentucky?

    Celine Cross

    June 15, 2009 at 8:03 pm

  8. Nikki,

    Arbitration is NOT a faster way to get a judgement. Arbitration is NOT a legal process although it is often a key piece of evidence in court.

    If you go to arbitration and they win they will earn an Award against you. Then you will either pay them or they will go to court. When they go to court they will bring that Award as a way to show that three “neutral” third parties felt that you are responsible for the bill.

    Also, Vehicles are not garnished. They have leins placed on them, are reposessed or are immune if they are your only vehicle (this is only in a VERY few states). But that depends on your state. Unemployment is NOT able to be garnished. Make sure you start keeping close track of every deposit into your account and retain proof that the money is from Unemployment.

    As for the person above I disagree strongly. I believe maintaining open communication is crucial to any business dealing. You just want to make sure of a few things. First off, RECORD EVERYTHING. Second, NEVER LIE TO THEM YOU’RE BEING RECORDED TOO. Third, inform them of the recording so they will be more courteous. Fourth, if you feel like you are being mistreated or intimidated don’t take it the FDCPA prevent that kind of behavior. To resolve the issue you can either request to speak to a manager or other collector or hang up and try back another day.

    The benefits to keeping communication open are huge though. As a prior collector I can tell you of a dozen cases that I was one phone call attempt away from sending to a lawyer and I got the Maker(aka debtor) on the phone and he prevent that for a few months or even entirely. And sooo many other cases of people that treated me rude or refused to talk to me which I just assumed to be refusals and sent them to legal much more readily. Of course, to gain the benefits of that communication you have to be courteous to the collector even if they aren’t always courteous to you.

    Last point, pay your bill in June-August and always near the EOM. June-August are the WORST months for collections and the EOM is when they are scrambling to get that one last payment to hit their goals.

    Good Luck and if you need anything or have any other questions let me know. I have worked on Third Party Collections and Legal Collections for quite some time now.



    June 25, 2009 at 12:15 am

  9. Can a collection agency garnish a bank account that contains only student loan money in Kentucky? I am a student and the only income that I have is my student loans.


    July 8, 2009 at 9:32 pm

  10. I have a judgment against me. My bank account has already been garnished once. Can they file a garnishment with the IRS and get my refund?


    August 6, 2009 at 11:29 pm

  11. They have started to garnish my husbands paychek for 25% of his pay…that is too high for us..we never agreed to 25% and this debt collector would not let us make we have any recourse? We tried working with them in the past with no success.
    thank you


    August 20, 2009 at 5:37 pm

  12. Can a bill from a hospital be garnished in ky even if your paying what you can pay and not what they tell you, you have to pay?


    September 30, 2009 at 4:57 pm

  13. Can 2 different creditors garnishee an employees wages at the same time in Kentucky?

    Debbie Clark

    October 16, 2009 at 8:35 pm

  14. I volunteered for a federaly funded program( Americorps vista ) can they garnish my checking

    Carrie Ward

    November 17, 2009 at 4:39 pm

  15. I’ve read several web sites on property exemptions, and they seem to say that if there is a judgment against either my wife, or me (but not both), our jointly owned home is exempt. But can they put a lien against the house against one of us, and then force us to pay it off if we sell the house?


    November 30, 2009 at 12:47 pm

  16. KRS 425.516 – Payment by garnishee — Costs.

    How much can a employer charge you for prossessing garishments.

    There has to be a limit. Is it 1 dollar or 2 per pay period.


    December 24, 2009 at 7:52 am

  17. My employer garnished my wages for 18 weeks. During the time he took out my garnishments he took an extra $10.00 every week.
    On my check it was in the misc. area, Equaling $180.00. When I asked him about it he dodged me and left for another job site. Is this his fee and is it legal. Can i demand it back or charge intrest on it. I herd in kentucky there is a $2.00 fee limit for employes (cost of a stamp and envelope). Is this true. Please Help

    Thank u

    Brian Warran

    January 22, 2010 at 8:28 am

  18. Citibank attained a judgment against me a month or so ago. I was told that they were executing the judgment through the courts and yesterday I found out the funds in my checking & savings accounts had been frozen. My bank says they received an order for garnishment, but is it legal just to completely freeze my accounts? Those funds were set aside for my mortgage payment and child’s day care expenses that are due next week. I haven’t even received notification of a garnishment and have no idea how long this process will take. As a result I’ll most likely be late on both payments, in addition to a host of others. What can I do?


    May 29, 2010 at 4:15 am

  19. If I get a garnishment against a physician who refuses to pay a debt, who will I file the garnishment against? They physician is paid directly by the insurance company so do I file the claim with an insurance that he accepts ie Medicare (government) or BC/BS (private)?


    April 23, 2011 at 4:14 pm

    • You can’t go directly to a garnishment. A garnishment is a legal process to collect a judgment, and not a debt. The distinction is critical. You have to get a court judgment first, which means you have to sue (and win) the physician first BEFORE attempting a garnishment. So, I suppose your question is, “Who to sue?” That is an impossible question for me to answer. Who actually owes you the money? I don’t know.

      Tom Fox

      April 23, 2011 at 4:26 pm

  20. I understand all of that. The doctor has a history of refusing to pay bills. I understand that I must first get a judgement, and will do so. But I am also sure he will not pay, even with a judgement. So just planning ahead. So. If se refuses to pay and I must garnish wages to collect on my judgement, can I file the garnishment with the insurance company?


    April 24, 2011 at 1:47 am

    • You can garnish almost any debt owed to the doctor, not just wages. If the insurance company owes the doctor money, you can garnish it, but it likely would not be considered as a wage garnishment. Wage garnishment is a special sub-set of garnishment in general, and wage garnishments are subject to special rules. Non-wage garnishments are a little easier. You can garnish the doctor’s bank accounts, or if his brother-in-law owns him money and you find out about it, you can proceed with a garnishment of the brother-in-law. Some things, like Social Security payments, can’t be garnished at all, but most all other payments can be garnished. If the doctor wrote a best-seller, you could garnish the publisher for the royalty payments. All after obtaining a valid court judgment and subject to the normal rules of jurisdiction. If the brother-in-law you wished to garnish lived out of state, then you’d normally have to go to a court in the state where the brother-in-law resided.

      Tom Fox

      April 24, 2011 at 3:01 am

  21. Very helpful. Thank you! Will take it one step at a time. Now have a better idea where I’m headed.


    April 25, 2011 at 11:45 pm

  22. Can A Company , that a person work for recive a processing fee for doing the extra work and time and Notary it take to comply with Garnishment.


    December 2, 2011 at 7:06 pm

  23. I was having a gentleman writing me letters about a debt I did write him back but I got no anwser to my letter so I started paying the person that I owed the money the credit card that is they cashed my checks and then I was garnished any way do I have any rights to stop this as I did write this man and I didn’t recieve any lettes back and also, I started making payment


    February 29, 2012 at 2:48 pm

  24. Is alimony/maintenance to me under temporary order of maintenance in divorce proceedings garnish-able?
    My bank account of checking and savings was wiped out this week. I had no notice, information about any of this happening. I called my bank for a question and was told about it, then was given a number to call at the state.
    I called the number and was told that notices had been sent to somewhere I have NEVER lived and it is a medical debt (that never used the 2 insurances they were given at the time of services) that had my address and had sent me a bill to my true address. It was my estranged husbands old address. So they must have got the false address from the medical insurance company the the ex has on me. The state office is asking the bank for a letter about my income, I have another small amount that is not attachable, but they are dragging their feet. My accounts are bouncing all over the place.
    What is possible to do about all of this stuff under KRS? Thanks for any help you can offer.


    March 5, 2012 at 3:36 am

  25. Julia Hicks

    I opened up a credit card account in 2000 and paid on it till 2002. Debt went to collections. Now its 12 yrs later and 21% interest every year. I havent heard anything or recieved anything in the mail about this debt in over 8yrs until I recieved a paper from my employer about the garnishment. The address they have on the paper as the last address they used to contact me is and never was a address for me. I never received any mail at my address im at now, which Ive lived there for almost 2 yrs. Is this all possible?


    August 21, 2012 at 4:42 pm

  26. I have an on line payday loan..i have not been able to pay it back.they are threatening to garnish my wages.they are from another state…..i think new mexmexico.will this go through ky court or their state?.will i be served by legal papers by sheriffs dept or will they be mailed to me?

    levonda thomas

    January 20, 2013 at 2:13 pm

  27. Kentucky Revised Statute 425.501 (Proceedings for obtaining order of garnishment.) Section (1) provides:

    “Any person in whose favor a final judgment in personam has been entered in any court of record of this state may . . . obtain an order of garnishment . . . . “

    What this means is that a creditor must first take you to court (sue you) and win a court judgment BEFORE seeking garnishment. Generally, this cannot happen without your knowledge and an opportunity to present your side of the story.

    Today a law firm took $300 from my checking. I called Bank and bank provided firm name and phone. I did not receive any notice for court or that garnishment occurred. The law firm who took maney from account said I should receive papers soon. Also told me they got account number from check that I sent in November.

    Terry Blankenship

    February 6, 2013 at 8:34 pm

  28. I have a garnishment judgement against me for a debt from 1997. I returned a vehicle back to the dealer in ’97. They (debt collector) got an order against me and I never even knew about it. the first garnishment didn’t begin until 2005. It is still ongoing every time I work. Is there a statute of limitations? I have paid the principle amount through the garnishments but they still want 15 years of interest. What should or can I do?

    jenny newman

    February 6, 2013 at 11:20 pm

  29. I owe SallieMae over $120,000 in student loans. I cannot afford to make the payments. So my question is if and when they sue me and if they will, can they only garnish my wages for a certain period of time and then the debt is considered paid in full or can they garnish my wages until the debt is paid if full (essentially forever)?


    May 20, 2013 at 4:28 pm

    • As far as I know, a judgment for a student loan is no different from any other judgment, so the creditor can continue collection efforts until the judgment & post-judgment interest are paid in full. Sorry.

      Tom Fox

      May 20, 2013 at 4:59 pm

  30. I am really enjoying the theme/design of your website.
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  31. We (employer) received an “agreed wage garnishment order” signed by a judge in KY court. ordering us to deduct 50.00 per month from an employee’s pay. No answer form, instructions, or reference to applicable laws were included, nor was the $10.00 payment to garnishee for disclosure/answer fee. I searched KY garnishment laws but could not find any provision for this. I contacted the creditor attorney to ask for the controlling law/rule to follow, and was told the order was not governed by any of the KY laws because the Judge ordered a low, flat amount; that the employer was not required to file an answer; and that ordered amount must be deducted even if the employee’s disposable earnings are less than the amount legally exempt from garnishment.based on KY and federal laws.
    Is there some obscure rule that I am overlooking that allows for this? If not, any suggestion for how to handle? Thank you.

    Cheryl M

    November 20, 2013 at 4:10 am

  32. Cheryl M -There seems to be two possibilities. You (employer) have sufficient connection with or are physically located within the Commonwealth of Kentucky so that the Kentucky courts clearly have jurisdiction over you (employer) and can legitimately order you about; OR, you (employer) are outside of Kentucky and have no substantial business connections with the state. This is important. If you (employer) file a written answer to the employee wage garnishment order, as required by Kentucky Rules of Civil Procedure 69.02(2), you (employer) may thereby unintentionally and unnecessarily submit to the Kentucky court’s jurisdiction even if it does not otherwise exist.

    I mention this merely because your employer location was not stated in your question.

    Otherwise, if the Kentucky court’s jurisdiction over you (employer) is clear, the thing to do is to file a written answer with the court, with a copy served upon the creditor’s (plaintiff’s) attorney (and with a copy to your employee) stating all of your procedural and substantive objections. If the statute says something should have been done that was not done, complain about it.

    You (employer) might also take the position that each subsequent pay period is subject to an additional separate $10 processing fee required by KRS 425.501(3).

    Tom Fox

    November 24, 2013 at 4:20 pm

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