APA Impacts Georgia Garnishment Legislation
Through grassroots advocacy, APA was successful in impacting Georgia proposed legislation, S.B. 443, signed into law on August 5, 2020, and effective January 1, 2021. D. Scott Bass, Esq., a partner at Hobgood and Bass, who lobbied for bill passage, said that without APA’s support, the bill would not have passed.
Relevant provisions in the law include:
- The garnishment period is expanded to 1,095 days (3 years) from the current period of 179 days.
- A private student loan is defined as an “educational or student loan for postsecondary educational expenses” and is limited to a maximum withholding of 15% (currently 25%).
- It is the debtor’s responsibility to have an order modified.
- The execution and filing of a garnishee answer and submission of payment may be performed by an entity's authorized officer, employee, or any individual or entity engaged by such garnishee for the purpose of processing payrolls or accounts payable and does not constitute the practice of law.
- The new law also applies to independent contractors who receive periodic payments.
- If the garnishment is deemed invalid, the garnishee is protected if they followed the order.
- If an answer is filed with $0 withheld and this has occurred three times, the employer can indicate that its response is the final answer and take no further action.
- Employers may still send a paper document/answer or file electronically. A court cannot reject a paper filing.
- A payment plan is part of the new process (delivered by the sheriff to the registered agent) and must be filed with the court. The employer will receive a copy of the payment plan.
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Alice P. Jacobsohn, Esq., is Director of Government Relations for the APA.