In Colorado, garnishment is one of the most effective ways of a creditor to collect on a judgment, when a debtor refuses to pay on a judgment. Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 103 sets forth the exclusive process for garnishment. In Colorado, there are five forms of garnishments: (1) A writ of continuing garnishment, (2) writ of garnishment with notice of exemption and pending levy, (3) writ of garnishment for support, (4) writ of garnishment — judgment debtor other than a natural person, and (5) writ of garnishment in aid of writ of attachment. Once properly issued by the Court, garnishments are valid for 180 days and then need to be renewed.
The process of obtaining a garnishment must be strictly followed. Ensuring that all of correct forms are used as well as filing with the court, paying the correct fees, issuance of the writs, and timing of personal service on the garnishee and debtor are the steps involved to maximize the benefits that garnishments are designed to achieve. At this juncture, it should be noted that failure to follow the correct process can result in liability against the issuer of the garnishment. A brief description of the five writs follows.
Writ of Continuing Garnishment
These writs are used to garnish the individual wages of judgment debtor and are directed to the employer of the judgment debtor.
Writ of Garnishment with Notice of Exemption and Pending Levy
The writs are used to collect on personal assets other than wages, such as bank accounts, personal property of the judgment debtor which is held in the hands of third parties.
Writ of Garnishment for Support
This writ is similar to the writ of continuing garnishment but actually receives a higher priority in the eyes of the courts in Colorado. It is important to note that this is the exclusive procedure for withholding the earnings of a judgment debtor for payment of a judgment debt for child support arrearages, maintenance when combined with child support, or child support debts, or maintenance.
Writ of Garnishment on Judgment Debtor other than a Natural Person
This is the exclusive form to be used when the judgment debtor is a business entity.
Writ of Garnishment in Aid of Writ of Attachment
This is the exclusive form used when the judgment debtor is also using other direct methods of levying or seizing upon the personal assets of the judgment debtor directly.
Once the writs are issued and properly and timely served, the judgment debtor has the ability to contest the garnishment. He must attempt in good faith to resolve the issue within 5 days with judgment creditor, and if the issue cannot be resolved, he must file a written objection within 10 days. At that point, the judgment creditor must file a traverse of the answer or objection; otherwise the matters are deemed accepted as true as set forth in the objection or answer of the judgment debtor. A hearing is then scheduled to resolve those issues raised in the answer, objection and traverse. Upon the hearing of the traverse, the Court makes its determination and orders the subject property to be released to the party who received the favorable ruling.
In the event the judgment debtor fails to respond, then default is entered by the Court and the subject property (funds or personal assets) are tendered to the prevailing party.