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U.S. Marshals Service

Service of Process

Writ of Garnishment

A writ of garnishment is a process by which the court orders the seizure or attachment of the property of a defendant or judgment debtor in the possession or control of a third party. The garnishee is the person or corporation in possession of the property of the defendant or judgment debtor.

Background:   In accordance with Rule 64 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a writ of garnishment may be issued pre- or post-judgment, according to state law and practice.  The requesting party may be required to provide an indemnity bond and an advance deposit to cover the U.S. Marshal's estimated out-of-pocket expenses.  Under Rule 69 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, any process issued to enforce a judgment for the payment of money is called a writ of execution. Consequently, in federal practice, there are no post-judgment writs of attachment or garnishment. Rather, the writ of attachment is denominated a writ of execution. Regardless of this denomination, however, enforcement of the writ is governed by state law as applicable to the analogous state law writ and procedure. Thus, a writ issued by a federal district court in Florida for enforcement of a judgment by garnishment will be called a writ of execution, but the U.S. Marshals Service will enforce the writ according to Florida state procedures for garnishment.

Territorial Limits: The writ is normally limited to execution within the state in which the district court is located unless extended by federal statute, rule or court order.

Issued By:  The clerk of the U.S. District or Bankruptcy Court will issue the writ, under seal, at the request of a party, upon order of a judge.

Served By:  The writ is served by the U.S. Marshal, another person, presumably a law enforcement officer, specially appointed by the court under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 4.1(a).

Manner of Service: The writ may be served on the person named or his or her agent. Where a corporation is the named garnishee, the U.S. Marshal may serve the president, vice president, an officer, or any person authorized to accept service on behalf of the corporation. Where an individual's salary is being garnished, the U.S. Marshal may serve the pay master. Service usually involves locating, identifying, and personally presenting the writ to the named party(ies); physically locating the property; identifying it as garnished; making an inventory; posting the writ and public notice of attachment; and placing the property under the control of the U.S. Marshal pending further instruction by the court.  There is a distinction between garnishment on wages and garnishment on property. The former places the responsibility upon the employer to collect the debtor's wages, while the latter means the U.S. Marshal must attach material property of the debtor equal to the value of the debt.

Return: The individual who effects service will provide proof of service by recording on the writ a description of the action taken in accordance with the instructions contained in it.

Note:  The information related to the service of court process that is contained on this web site is general information and not intended to be an exhaustive or definitive explanation or depiction of Federal rules of procedures for the service of process.  Readers are directed to the Federal Rules of Criminal and Civil Procedure; personal legal counsel; the United States Code, Titles 18 and 28; their local U.S. Attorney's Office and District Court for specific, authoritative guidance. 

 
usmarshals.gov is an official site of the U.S. Federal Government, U.S. Department of Justice