Out of State Collection Judgment used to Garnish Wages in New York

If a creditor obtains a judgment against you in another state, can they collect on it by garnishing your wages here in New York?

Our wage garnishment defense lawyers argue the judgment must first be “domesticated” and turned into a New York judgment before it can be used to levy on a judgment debtor’s pay check. This is because a “foreign” (out of state) court only has jurisdiction over judgment enforcement within its own state borders, and it has no authority to order a New York employer to make payroll withholdings. Nor can the foreign state take punitive measures against a NY employer for failure to comply with the wage garnishment notice.

Before wages can be garnished here in NY, the judgment creditor must obtain a certified copy of the collection judgment from the state of origin, and then purchase a New York index number under which the judgment is docketed in the employee’s county of residence.

The judgment creditor or collection agency must also provide the judgment debtor a Notice to Garnishee before an employer is ordered to withhold funds from your earned income. The defendant should respond to the Notice to Garnishee and defend himself against both the domestication, as well as the execution, of the collection judgment herein New York.

One common defense to domestication of a foreign judgment is that the consumer never received notice of the Summons & lawsuit in the foreign jurisdiction because he no longer lived there at the time he was sued. In this instance, the judge will determine whether you are entitled to re-litigate the case before the creditor can pursue a financial recovery through an income execution against in state pay, commissions, bonuses or other compensation earned.

Note, if you work for a national company, it may still be possible for an aggressive debt collector to attach and levy upon your earnings by serving an asset seizure notice on a payroll department located outside of New York [1]. In this instance, you can file an emergency application with the New York State Supreme Court to freeze the wage garnishment until a ruling is made on the validity of the judgment recovered against you [2].

Contact our NY wage garnishment defense team for a free review of how to stop collection of an out of state judgment and take control of your finances today.

[1] Williamson v. Williamson, 275 S.E.2d (Ga. 1981)

[2] Out of State Garnishments, 50 Ark. L. Rev. 415 (1997)