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​Responding to garnishee orders 

If you do not pay the judgment debt, the other party can ask for a 'garnishee order' directing a third party to pay the money to them. For example, your employer, your bank or another person who owes you money, can be ordered to pay your wage, your savings, or the money owed to you, directly to the other party to pay off the judgment debt.

    Garnishee order for wages or salary 

    The most common garnishee order is for wages or salary. This order is served on your employer. Your employer is called the garnishee. 

    The other party does not have to tell you they applied for a garnishee order. You might only find out when you check your bank account and realise that money is missing from your wages. 

    If your employer receives a garnishee order they must take an amount of money from your wage and pay it to the other party. This will continue each time you are due to be paid your wages until the whole of the judgment debt has been paid or until the court stops the order. 

    When your employer gets a garnishee order, they have to leave you with a minimum amount of money to live on, known as the 'weekly compensation amount'. The current weekly compensation amount is $494.30 (as at 1 October 2017). The weekly compensation amount is changed in April and October each year. You can check the current amount on the Local Court website. 

    Your employer is also allowed to deduct a further $13.00 for their administration expenses. 

    Handy hintIf there is a garnishee order against your wages, you can still apply to the court to pay the debt by instalments in smaller amounts leaving you with more take home pay. For more information, see Paying by instalments.

    Garnishee order for debts 

    A garnishee order for debts is used when someone owes you money or holds money for you. For example:

    • ​​​​bank, building society or credit union accounts 
    • money owed to you for rent payments or work done. 

    A garnishee order for debts orders the garnishee to make a single payment to the other party, up to the value of the judgment debt. A garnishee order may not apply to your bank account if it has less than $20.00 in it.

    The garnishee is allowed to deduct $13.00 for administration expenses. 

    AlertIf you receive Centrelink payments, all or part of the money in your bank account may be protected from a garnishee order. If your Centrelink payments have been garnished, get legal advice​.

    What you can do

    To try and stop wages or your bank account being garnished you can: ​

    • ​​apply to the court for a stay of enforcement
    • pay the judgment debt
    • apply to the court to pay by instalments
    • apply to the court to set aside a default judgment.

    Apply to the court for a stay of enforcement

    If you need more time to pay the judgment debt, for example because you need to borrow money or sell property, you can apply to the court for a temporary order stopping enforcement. This is called applying for a stay of enforcement, or a stay of proceedings. 

    For more information see Stay of enforcement​. 

    Pay the judgment debt

    You can pay the debt by giving the other party the amount of the writ in full including any court costs or levies. For more information, see Paying the judgment.

    If you cannot pay this amount in full, you could try to come to an arrangement with the other party as to how it will be paid.

    For more information see, Ne​​gotiating after judgment

    Apply to the court to pay by instalments

    The first time you apply to the court to pay the judgment debt by instalments, all enforcement action, will automatically stop. 

    If you are making a second or later application to pay by instalments, you will also need to apply for a stay of enforcement to stop enforcement. 

    For more information, see Paying in instalments​.  

    Apply to the court to set aside default judgment

    If you did not file a defence and the other party got a default judgment against you, you can apply to the court to set aside the default judgment. In your application, you will need to explain to the court: 

    • ​why you did not file a defence within 28 days of receiving the statement of claim and
    • what your defence is to the cl​aim. 

    For more information, see Setting aside a default judgment.