Garnishments & Levies

In bankruptcy, it is possible to retrieve funds that have been garnished from paychecks or levied from bank accounts as a result of a collections judgment. However, the complexity of doing so depends on the amount of the garnishment or levy, when your bankruptcy is filed and who possesses the funds (i.e., the Sheriff or the judgment creditor).

The most important factor is timing.

In California, the local Sheriff’s Department acts as an intermediary between a debtor and his judgment creditor. Upon a creditors receipt of a default judgment, the Sheriff issues earnings withholdings and levy orders upon employers and banks, which in turn take money from the debtor and send it to the Sheriff for holding. In California, wage garnishments are typically limited to 25% of the total check, before taxes. There are no such limitations on bank levies; a judgment creditor may clean out your entire bank account. Periodically, the Sheriff will forward any seized money, after fees, to the judgment creditor.
garnishment levies

However, a judgment creditor must not accept any garnished or levied funds once a bankruptcy case is filed. In the event of a bankruptcy filing, the Sheriff typically holds all garnished or levied funds until the bankruptcy case is resolved or dismissed.


Our office may file for court orders compelling the Sheriff to turn over any seized funds to the debtor. We may also obtain orders compelling judgment creditors to return funds garnished or levied prior to a bankruptcy filing, but these matters are more complicated and require careful consideration.


If you have recently experienced wage garnishment or a bank levy, contact us immediately. If you are also considering bankruptcy, there is a good chance we may be able to compel the sheriff, bank or judgment creditor to return your money.


The Law Office of Tyson Takeuchi is a federally designated Debt Relief Agency as defined in the 2005 amendments to the United States Bankruptcy Code. This law firm provides legal advice regarding the pros and cons of filing bankruptcy and represents people and small businesses in filing for bankruptcy relief under the United States Bankruptcy Code.
The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.

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