Garnishments – General Information


  1. Before a garnishment action may be filed, you must have a judgment against someone or a business. The garnishee bank/employer or someone you may serve on its behalf must be located in DeKalb County.

  2. It is less expensive to file in Magistrate Court. The cost for filing a garnishment in State Court is $222.00. The cost for filing a garnishment in Magistrate Court is $54.00. Magistrate Court may only collect $15,000.00 or less including costs. If you wish the DeKalb County Marshal to serve the garnishee, there is an additional $35.00 for each garnishee served. There is no limit on the number of garnishees to an action. Personal or third-party checks are not accepted.

  3. All costs for filing a garnishment action and service fees may be recovered from the Debtor Defendant if any funds are received as a result of the action you file.

  4. If you decide to use a private process server, you must provide proof of service to the Clerk’s Office. The Clerk’s Office will not provide extra copies of the service documents for you, unless you pay for the copies.

  5. You will need the following forms: one Affidavit for Garnishment; one Summons of Garnishment; two copies of the Summons (one for the garnishee, the other for the Debtor Defendant); and two Marshall’s Entry of Service sheets (one for the garnishee, one for the Debtor Defendant). If you are filing a Continuing Garnishment, you will need 7 additional Answer Forms.

  6. You must attach a self-addressed, stamped envelope to the Service Sheet to receive your copy back showing the date the Garnishee bank/employer was served. It may take up to 60 days from the date of service before the Court hears from the party served. A bank will freeze the Debtor Defendant’s account and send the Court the amount you filed your garnishment for, or the amount in the account, whichever is greater. An employer will withhold 25% of the net pay and send it to the Court.

  7. After you file your action, if you find that the Debtor Defendant has additional money in another bank account or another employer, you may add that Garnishee to the open case by filing an additional Summons of Garnishment for $35.00 (this includes service on the garnishee).

  8. The amount for which you file your garnishment is the amount that you were awarded in your judgment, the cost of your judgment, and any interest and court cost to which you may be entitled added together. The Clerk will add the garnishment cost to the action. Please note that the Clerk CANNOT properly calculate the garnishment cost if you do not supply the return of service documents (including return of service when you were unable to serve the Debtor Defendant or the garnishee), potentially resulting in an incomplete calculation of your garnishment costs by the Clerk.

  9. The Court will not contact you if no money is received, or no answer is filed. If after 60 days, you have not received a check from us, you may call to see if an answer has been filed. If no answer has been filed, you will need to contact an attorney to be advised of your next step.

  10. If you are not an attorney and you have not hired an attorney, then you are acting as your own attorney. The Court Clerk cannot give you any legal advice concerning garnishments.

  11. The Court cannot guarantee that you will receive any money when you file a garnishment. But if the Court receives funds for you, the funds will be mailed in a timely manner. If the Court does not have proof in its files that the Debtor Defendant has been served, the funds will be held until proof of service is filed. Funds remain in the registry for 20 days prior to payment, possibly longer if a traverse is filed by the Debtor Defendant. An Application for payment to condemn funds is required before funds are paid. Due to the large number of checks the Court processes, all checks are mailed.

  12. You may contact the Garnishment Office by calling 404-371-2261, option 4, for general information about a case. It can take up to 60 days before any information is available.

  13. All correspondence should be addressed to the Clerk of Magistrate Court of DeKalb County, DeKalb County Courthouse, 556 N. McDonough Street, Room 260, Decatur, GA 30030.