Boring Details

and fine print

Garnishment – Texas law

with 46 comments


If you want to understand the Texas laws of garnishment, there are three sources of information you need to consult:

  1. The Texas garnishment statutes, below;
  2. The Texas Rules of Civil Procedure. There is a whole section about garnishment, and;
  3. The hundreds of Texas appellate court opinions explaining the statutes and rules of procedure.

I suggest you consult the book – Texas Garnishment Law: Statutes, Court Rules, Cases, Commentary & Forms  It is currently a work in progress, but it is currently also a free collection of statutes, rules and court decisions. When I’ve completed the book in a month or two, it will no longer be free.

Ask your questions about garnishment law here.

— Texas wage garnishment

Generally, there is no wage garnishment in Texas for general consumer debts and ordinary private lenders. The Texas Constitution makes current wages exempt property. There are two exceptions under the Texas Constitution for child support and spousal maintenance. Federal law makes other exceptions for such debts as student loans and certain taxes.

Read: Wage Garnishment Schizophrenia

Texas Constitution –
Article 16 Sec. 28. Garnishment of wages.

“No current wages for personal service shall ever be subject to garnishment, except for the enforcement of court-ordered:
(1) child support payments; or
(2) spousal maintenance.”

The average creditor who sues an employee and gets a judgment may not garnish any current wages.  Those who are self-employed generally do not receive “wages.”

If a debt collector wrongfully threatens one employed in Texas with wage garnishment, when he has no legal right to do so, he may be in violation the Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

Texas Payday Law §61.018 provides:

DEDUCTION FROM WAGES. An employer may not withhold or divert any part of an employee’s wages unless the employer:
(1) is ordered to do so by a court of competent jurisdiction;
(2) is authorized to do so by state or federal law; or
(3) has written authorization from the employee to deduct part of the wages for a lawful purpose.

See: Texas Workforce Commission: Deduction Problems

Employer’s obligations

Although an employee’s current wages are exempt from garnishment by ordinary creditors, an employer may control other assets of the employee that are not exempt.  Special care must be given to the definition of “current wages.” – Summary of Texas garnishment laws with emphasis on employer’s obligations. (Free registration required to access)

Texas Code (Tex. Code) – Civil Practice and Remedies Code | Title 3 – Extraordinary Remedies | Chapter 63 – Garnishment

Tex. Code CP §63.001 to §63.008
Current through the 1st Called Session of the 82nd Legislature, July 2011. Why? This is 2014!! Because that’s the way it is on the official Texas Legislative website. They plan an update for March 7 – 10, 2014. Check back on March 11, if things go as planned.
Source: Texas Legislature

  • Section 63.001. Grounds.
    A writ of garnishment is available if:

    • (1) an original attachment has been issued;
    • (2) a plaintiff sues for a debt and makes an affidavit stating that:
      • (A) the debt is just, due, and unpaid;
      • (B) within the plaintiff’s knowledge, the defendant does not possess property in Texas subject to execution sufficient to satisfy the debt; and
      • (C) the garnishment is not sought to injure the defendant or the garnishee; or
    • (3) a plaintiff has a valid, subsisting judgment and makes an affidavit stating that, within the plaintiff’s knowledge, the defendant does not possess property in Texas subject to execution sufficient to satisfy the judgment.

  • Section 63.002. Who may issue.The clerk of a district or county court or a justice of the peace may issue a writ of garnishment returnable to his court.

  • Section 63.003. Effect of service.
    • (a) After service of a writ of garnishment, the garnishee may not deliver any effects or pay any debt to the defendant. If the garnishee is a corporation or joint-stock company, the garnishee may not permit or recognize a sale or transfer of shares or an interest alleged to be owned by the defendant.
    • (b) A payment, delivery, sale, or transfer made in violation of Subsection (a) is void as to the amount of the debt, effects, shares, or interest necessary to satisfy the plaintiff’s demand.

  • Section 63.004. Current wages exempt.
    Except as otherwise provided by state or federal law, current wages for personal service are not subject to garnishment. The garnishee shall be discharged from the garnishment as to any debt to the defendant for current wages.

  • Section 63.005.Place for trial.
    • (a) If a garnishee other than a foreign corporation is not a resident of the county in which the original suit is pending or was tried and a party to the suit files an affidavit controverting the garnishee’s answer, the issues raised by the answer and controverting affidavit shall be tried in the county in which the garnishee resides. The issues may be tried in a court of that county that has jurisdiction of the amount of the original judgment if the plaintiff files with the court a certified copy of the judgment in the original suit and a certified copy of the proceedings in garnishment, including the plaintiff’s application for the writ, the garnishee’s answer, and the controverting affidavit.
    • (b) If a garnishee whose answer is controverted is a foreign corporation, the issues raised by the answer and controverting affidavit shall be tried in the court in which the original suit is pending or was tried.

  • Section 63.006. Administrative fee for certain costs incurred by employers.
    • (a) An employer who is required by state or federal law to deduct from the current wages of an employee an amount garnished under a withholding order may deduct monthly an administrative fee as provided by Subsection (b) from the employee’s disposable earnings in addition to the amount required to be withheld under the withholding order. This section does not apply to income withholding under Chapter 158, Family Code.
    • (b) The administrative fee deducted under Subsection (a) may not exceed the lesser of:
      • (1) the actual administrative cost incurred by the employer in complying with the withholding order; or
      • (2) $10.
    • (c) For the purposes of this section, “withholding order” means:
      • (1) a withholding order issued under Section 488A, Part F, Subchapter IV, Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. Section 1095a); and
      • (2) any analogous order issued under a state or federal law that:
        • (A) requires the garnishment of an employee’s current wages; and
        • (B) does not contain an express provision authorizing or prohibiting the payment of the administrative costs incurred by the employer in complying with the garnishment by the affected employee.

  • Section 63.007. Garnishment of funds held in inmate trust fund.
      (a) A writ of garnishment may be issued against an inmate trust fund held under the authority of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice under Section 501.014, Government Code, to encumber money that is held for the benefit of an inmate in the fund.(b) The state’s sovereign immunity to suit is waived only to the extent necessary to authorize a garnishment action in accordance with this section.

  • Section 63.008. Fiinancial institution as garnishee.Service of a writ of garnishment on a financial institution named as the garnishee in the writ is governed by Section 59.008, Finance Code.


Written by Tom Fox

January 9, 2009 at 4:19 pm

46 Responses

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  1. […] tomwfox @ 1:00 pm Although there is much to admire in the Texas statutory law of garnishment, Texas Code CP §63.001 et seq. also provides in §63.007 – Garnishment of funds held in inmate trust fund: “(a) A writ of […]

  2. My client’s bank accounts have been garnished for non payment of an Agreed Judgment. He had previously been put on a payment plan. Please advise as to which way to go to set aside the garnishment of the said accoutns


    June 25, 2009 at 9:06 am

  3. Does the ability to garnish wages for taxes in Texas extend to taxes owed to other states? Specifically, if a sales tax debt to another state is not discharged through Chapter 7 (because it is a “Trust Tax”) can that state apply for and recieve wage garnishments on a Texas resident?


    August 22, 2009 at 1:26 am

  4. Am I allowed to garnish wages for damage to rental property and/or unpaid rent. I live in Texas.

    Thank you

    James Lynch

    December 29, 2009 at 4:23 am

  5. are retirement funds like ira cds excempt from garnichment from a judgement?


    February 11, 2010 at 2:50 pm

  6. My wages are payroll deduction to my bank acccount before I have access to my money.
    Does that still make my wages in my bank account liable for garnishment.

    John L. Stephens

    April 19, 2011 at 1:20 am

    • It’s a good question, but there is no uniform answer since each of the 50 states have their own respective rules for garnishment. If you tell me what state you live and work in and do your banking in (hopefully all the same state) I might be able to look it up without too much trouble.

      Tom Fox

      April 19, 2011 at 1:51 am

  7. since in texas a collection agency can not garnish my wages (I’am self employed)
    Can they sue to freezed my bank account and take my money?

    any suggestion for my case will be appreciated


    October 1, 2011 at 5:59 am

  8. I am in Texas, and made an arrangement to “stop” a garnidhmen on a student loan; NCO still garnished me and took monies from my checking account even though I had made arrangement with them to pay th loan.

    Is this legal?


    October 20, 2011 at 11:26 pm

  9. If an employer acts on an adminstrative levy from the IRS, is the employer responsible for validating the Federal Paperwork reduction Act compliance with the issued forms?

    M. Matters

    November 1, 2011 at 6:23 pm

  10. I live in texas and a collector from outside the state is trying to wage garnish my pay. Can they do this? I have another loan that im trying to pay off and Im asking for them to wait but no luck. What can I do?


    November 14, 2011 at 4:32 pm

  11. I forgot to mention that its a second school loan that is trying to collect.


    November 14, 2011 at 4:33 pm

  12. Hello I currently reside in Dallas, TX and today I received my payroll check and saw that my wages are now being garnished by a small claims court in Indiana where I use to reside over 2 years ago. I have contacted my payroll dept and they stated that since there is a Writ there is not anything they can do. I have filed BK prev in 2006 and I don’t think I can file again. I was advised that if you reside,live and work in certain states that govern such state law where you could not be garnished unless it is childsupport,IRS and student loans they have no authority. Is there someone that can help me with this huge issue.


    November 23, 2011 at 4:46 am

  13. We owe a bill that is being handled by a Colorado Collection Law firm. We just recently moved to Texas, but our wages are paid to us by a company in a different state. Can our wages be garnished for this bill?


    November 28, 2011 at 9:32 pm

  14. I want to dispute a lawyer’s charges in a divorce case and I am afraid she will sue me later. Can she garnish my bank account, I live in Texas?

    Cristina Deal

    March 10, 2012 at 10:10 am

  15. i live in Iowa but my income is from Texas based employer Advocare. I have alot of debt that i cant pay. Can my wages be garnished? Does the Texas not having garshiments apply to me? thank you.

    Cynthia Anderson

    March 22, 2012 at 3:08 pm

  16. if a creditor is threatening to garnish my wages and also possably put a lean on my property in the state of texas el paso i am currently being garnished for child support and back pay the amount of 775 on an 350 $ pay check weekly and now a creditor is threatening to garnish my wages or put a lean on my property i live in land and trailer is this possable and what can i do to avoid this action if any at all. i am also a full time student learning a trade in electician for my tx licencing. pls get back to me as soon as possable it would be greatly apeciated thanx.

    jose luis molina

    April 9, 2012 at 12:57 pm

  17. Ok, I understand that there are no rights for garnishment of ‘wages’ under TX law. However, if I get a judgement against someone who owes me money for personal loans, and that person refuses to complete payment of the balance of what they owe me, can I apply for and receive a right to garnishe that person’s bank account(s)? If so, what is the specific TX Annotated Code(s) that spell out the proceedure?

    T R Frost

    April 20, 2012 at 6:25 am

  18. I am in Houston Tx. My previous employer put an garnisnment on my bank account for some reason, however, when their attorney found out that I am innocent. They still would not uplift the garnishment only if I give up my right to claim for the moeny they owed me when I left the company. Can they do so? What can I do?

    Kinny Cheng

    April 21, 2012 at 4:37 pm

  19. Is it legal for an employer to withhold wages as a punishment for non-compliance of company procedures? (i.e. turning in weekly reports to supervisor)


    June 27, 2012 at 2:41 pm

  20. I have a collections agency telling me they have a wage garnichment that they are going to send to my employer for a pay day loan. Can they garnish my wages without a court order?

    Johnnie Howell

    August 2, 2012 at 3:41 pm

  21. A personal loan i recieved has a collector from indiana send me a letter saying they are suing me for a debt and said when they get the judgment they will garnish my wages. i lve in texas and cannot make it to the court date. can they garnish my wages? i read no collector can do so in texas except for child support school loans or taxes is this true? any suggestions?


    April 19, 2013 at 7:49 pm

  22. Billy – Can’t make any general statements since a lot depends on the type of debt it is, plus the fact you might not always want to stay in Texas. These things can hang around for a long time. It’s usually best to deal with it sooner rather than later.

    Tom Fox

    April 20, 2013 at 2:02 pm

  23. I’ve just found today that my wages are being garnished for a school loan. Here’s the catch. I’m in college now, and therefore do not owe on my loans. I have received nothing NOTHING from my school loan company saying there were going to garnish. My real question is, is my employer required, by law, to inform me of this garnishment before they start garnishing? I’m having issues getting a look at the paperwork. If you have a link to the specific law, that would be helpful so I can print it out to bring to the payroll department.


    August 22, 2013 at 12:56 am

    • First I need to know if it is (1) A Federal student loan, or if it is (2) A loan from a bank, a credit union or a state loan program. Different rules.

      Tom Fox

      August 22, 2013 at 2:16 am

  24. I’d like clarification on the issue of garnishment of wages in Texas. If my paycheck is directly deposited in my bank account, then immediately removed by the garnishment, is that legal or have they just successfully garnished my wages?

    John Scott

    December 12, 2013 at 9:42 pm

    • Look at Schmerbeck v. River Oaks Bank, Court of Appeals of Texas, Texarkana.
      March 13, 1990, 786 S.W.2d 521 (1990)

      “A paycheck in the hands of the judgment debtor does not constitute current wages, and an order directing a judgment debtor to turn over his future paychecks, as and when received, is not prohibited by either the Constitution or the statutes. Raborn v. Davis, supra. [33 Tex.Sup.Ct.J. 249 (33 Tex.Sup.Ct.J. 249 (Tex. Feb. 21, 1990)]”

      I am not aware of any specific provision in either Texas or Federal law that would protect wages once the money is deposited in a bank account. The general rule is to allow a proper garnishment unless there is a specific statutory exemption, and I have not found any specific exemption.

      Tom Fox

      December 14, 2013 at 2:54 pm

  25. I have had my account garnished repeatedly the past two months. I made no no effort to stop it by changing bank accounts because I wanted to pay the debt and be done with it. The final amount needed to satisfy the judgement was removed 10 days ago but my account is still frozen, leaving me unable to access the the money remaining in the account. I never would have allowed a 2nd full month’s paycheck to be deposited in the account if I had know it would remain frozen. Is there any legal remedy available to encourage the writ attorneys to release the hold on my account? Their action just seems punitive at this point.

    John Scott

    December 12, 2013 at 9:52 pm

    • A friendly conversation with one of your bank’s retail account representatives would likely go a long way to clarify the situation. You should keep in mind that banks usually charge hefty service charges to process garnishments, so your account may be overdrawn as a result of the bank fees. It’s hard for me to know through guessing. Resorting to legal force in this situation is probably a mistake and a waste. When dealing with large institutions, my advice is to find out what the bank needs to free up your account, by asking nicely, and then giving it to them.

      Tom Fox

      December 14, 2013 at 3:05 pm

  26. Tom:

    Thanks for the prompt response. At this point there is over $5,000 in the account and no bank fees have been deducted. When I call Wells Fargo’s legal department, they say they are waiting on outside counsel (attorney Michael Adams issued the writ) to release the account hold. When I call Adam’s office, they say “it’s out of their hands” and they are waiting on the outside counsel representing Wells Fargo. Neither Adams or Wells Fargo will give me the contact information for Well’s outside counsel ( although one Well’s employee let the name, “Pearson & Pearson” slip, and then seemed to realize she had made a mistake when I asked for a phone number). So now, my account is still frozen and no one will say why or for how long. Do you have any idea as to what we are all waiting on?

    John Scott

    December 14, 2013 at 9:02 pm

    • Oh. That’s a different story, and it sounds like the bank may be acting improperly for mysterious reasons. I don’t have any direct personal experience with Texas garnishment law, but normally, in other states, the garnishment documents delivered to the bank are for a specific dollar amount. If the bank pays that amount in full, and I’m sure that the bank knows if it did, then the garnishment would be satisfied and the remainder of your funds unencumbered.
      In short, the garnishment isn’t a lien on ALL your money. Just that much necessary to pay the judgment debt. Unless Texas law or procedure has some weird twist outside my knowledge, the bank does not need the creditor’s attorneys permission for anything. If the debt has been paid in full, the garnishment has been satisfied in full. End of story.
      Now, the problem is how you can convince the bank that the do not actually need what they believe they do need, and for the bank restore your access to the account.
      Let me think about it and I’ll get back to you soon.
      Is the court that issued the garnishment conveniently located to you?

      Tom Fox

      December 15, 2013 at 1:17 am

    • I think the answer may be for you to file a motion with the court from which the original money judgment issued, which might or might not be the same court that issued the garnishment. It would be called a Motion for Order of Satisfaction and Release from Garnishment. You’d have to prove the original judgment and any post judgment interest (I’m not sure right off hand what the statutory interest rate in Texas is, but I can look it up), and also prove the amount paid by the bank to the creditor as a result of the garnishment. If the amount paid equals the amount owed plus interest, then the court ought to grant the motion and issue an order stating that the judgment is satisfied and the garnishment lien released. Doing that is a possible option worth considering, in which case it is just a drafting problem. There may be other ways to skin this cat. I’ll let you know.

      Tom Fox

      December 15, 2013 at 1:32 am

    • Texas post judgment interest is governed by section 304 of the Texas Finance Code:

      Sec. 304.001 states, “A money judgment of a court in this state must specify the postjudgment interest rate applicable to that judgment.” So, if you have a copy of the original judgment, it should tell you exactly what interest rate is being added to your judgment debt due to the mere passage of time.

      Section 304.005 states, “. . . . interest on a money judgment of a court in this state accrues during the period beginning on the date the judgment is rendered and ending on the date the judgment is satisfied.”

      Section Sec. 304.006 states, “Postjudgment interest on a judgment of a court in this state compounds annually.”

      Perhaps the exact amount of post judgment interest is the source of the bank’s reluctance to release your account, and it wants to creditor attorney to certify that the original judgment, plus all post judgment interest, has in fact been paid in full. It’s a possibility.

      If the creditor attorney is non-responsive, going back to court for a determination may be your best option.

      Tom Fox

      December 15, 2013 at 1:20 pm

    • I finally found what I was looking for: Property Code relating to liens, section 52.005 ‘Satisfaction of Judgment’:

      Satisfaction of a judgment in whole or in part may be shown by recordation of:

      (1) a return on an execution issued on the judgment, or a copy of the return, certified by the officer making the return and showing:

      (A) the names of the parties to the judgment;

      (B) the number and style of the suit;

      (C) the court in which the judgment was rendered;

      (D) the date and amount of the judgment; and

      (E) the dates of issuance and return of the execution; or

      (2) a receipt, acknowledgement, or release that is signed by the party entitled to receive payment of the judgment or by that person’s agent or attorney of record and that is acknowledged or proven for record in the manner required for deeds.

      When a judgment has been paid in full, it is generally the judgment creditor’s responsibility to record a Satisfaction of Judgment that acts to release any lien against the judgment debtor’s property. Without having found any specific authority for this, I’m sure that you, as judgment debtor, can ask the court to order a Satisfaction of Judgment entered when the judgment creditor refuses to do so. A certified copy of the recorded Satisfaction ought to be enough to make the bank happy.

      I’m sorry if I confused you any as I worked my way through this problem.

      Tom Fox

      December 15, 2013 at 11:19 pm

  27. Tom:
    Thanks again for the reply. My mistake was leaving over 5K in the account. The lawyers and bankers have probably spent the past two weeks trying to figure out all of the creative ways that they can get their hands on it. I’ll let you know how this ends.

    John Scott

    December 15, 2013 at 11:15 pm

    • I’d like to hear the story and how it all turns out for you. If you need any more free advice, just ask. I’m full of it.

      If I were you I’d send a certified letter to the creditor’s attorney, with a return receipt, demanding that he mark your judgment satisfied and release the garnishment on the bank, his negligence in failing to do so has caused you damage and . . . well . . . there might be some vague trouble brewing for him if he doesn’t act diligently.

      Tom Fox

      December 16, 2013 at 1:34 pm

    • John,

      Just curious. It’s been a few months now. Did you get your garnishment frozen account resolved?

      Tom Fox

      March 17, 2014 at 12:12 am

  28. can i get the writ of garnishment form? I am living in Collin County,Texas,
    I got default judgement and defendant are not paying me money. he has money in the bank so want to file writ of garnishment.

    Please send me a link to download the form of writ of garnishment or email me


    June 6, 2014 at 9:34 pm

    • I wish I could help you, but Texas garnishment law is astonishingly complicated and I am a long way from finishing my book. I have not seen any simple form that a non-lawyer can safely use. Texas courts have long held that garnishment is a harsh remedy and requires strict compliance with the statutory provisions and related rules, Beggs v. Fite, 106 S.W.2d 1039 (Tex. 1937), and there are a LOT of rules. You have to get it right first time, or they will happily bounce your garnishment petition out the door and down the courthouse steps. There are over one thousand Texas appellate court opinions on garnishment and I have read only about 200, so far. I’m working on it. One of these days I’ll be able to provide an instruction manual, but not today. Thanks for asking. Good luck to you.

      Tom Fox

      June 7, 2014 at 7:13 am

  29. I have a concern and maybe you can help. My husband got a letter from his company that they received a writ of garnishment for creditors debt.. We have been have been in Texas since April 2012. They said they personally served my husband in Mississippi on July 21, 2012. That did not happen because we did not live there. This company got a judgement in Mississippi in Sept 2012. Can they garnish his wages since he works in Texas. His companies main offices are in Texas but payroll is in Louisiana. This is not for child support or taxes or even student loans. I have no problem paying if I owe it but don’t even know who they are. If they can’t what do I need to send them to stop this. Apparently his payroll department has no clue. Thanks


    August 5, 2014 at 1:22 pm

    • Yes, no and maybe. There are several issues here, but the most important one at first is the validity of the 2012 Mississippi judgment. If you can get hold of a copy of the garnishment order from your husband’s employer, it ought to contain useful information about the name of the judgment creditor and the details of Mississippi lawsuit. The employer should give him a copy of the garnishment order, with no fuss. Maybe your husband owes the debt and forgot, and maybe the whole thing is a scam. That happens sometimes, and I encourage you to look into it. I can’t give you legal advice, but I can give you a lot of practical advice if you can provide more information.

      Tom Fox

      August 5, 2014 at 1:39 pm

    • I have the copy of garnishment . Main Street acquisitions is debt. Jacobs law firm in Oxford Ms . What other info do you need from this?


      August 5, 2014 at 1:50 pm

    • I have to drive my wife to a doctor’s appointment shortly, so I can’t look at this until later. Bad timing. Sorry.

      Tom Fox

      August 5, 2014 at 2:01 pm

    • The fact that it is Main Street Acquisitions tells me a lot. Main Street Acquisitions is a legitimate business that specializes in buying delinquent consumer debt, typically credit card debt, cheaply . . . like for a small fraction of the amount owed. Then they proceed to try to collect the debt.

      This is my best guess what has happened. In 2008, your husband had an open credit card account with Washington Mutual (WaMu). WaMu went bankrupt in 2008 and the accounts were taken over by Chase Bank. In 2011 Chase sold thousands of these credit card accounts to Main Street Acquisition which sat on them until 2012, when they started to sue folks, hoping to collect. I bet if you ask your husband if he had a WaMu (Washington Mutual) credit card six years ago, it might ring a bell. Please let me know if this is what happened. He though that old WaMu credit card debt went away . . . but it didn’t?

      Tom Fox

      August 5, 2014 at 5:34 pm

    • It was credit one bank.


      August 5, 2014 at 5:38 pm

    • A Mississippi credit card debt in a Mississippi court with a Mississippi wage garnishment. I doubt that living in Texas now will do you much good. Maybe it is possible to convince a Mississippi judge to honor Texas limits on wage garnishments, but it’s a long shot, and I don’t know anything about how Mississippi courts view the matter. If you had moved from Kentucky, where I live, I’m certain you’d be out of luck.

      Standard federal limits seem to apply to Mississippi wage garnishments for consumer debts. They can’t take more than 25% of disposable income. If you have the cash, or access to cash, you might be able to bargain for a settlement for less than the full amount. If you really and truly did not receive service of the Mississippi lawsuit, you might be able to re-open it to contest the amount owed, but it’s not easy. You might need a Mississippi lawyer. There are no easy answers to this one that I can see.

      Tom Fox

      August 5, 2014 at 6:15 pm

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