New Jersey Wage Garnishments Are Enforced On First Come First Serve Basis

We are sometime asked by debtors whose whose earning are being garnished and whose employer receives a second wage garnishment whether both garnishments will be enforced at the same time.  The Courts of the State of  New Jersey have explained wage garnishments are enforced sequentially.  As a result creditors are benefited from ‘being first in line’.

“Two wage executions may not be satisfied at the same time but instead are satisfied sequentially in order of priority. N.J.S.A. 2A:17-52. Thus, it is critical that the judgment debtor who is first in time should have his or execution placed in effect, upon proof of the debt and the income, with no delay. See Family Finance Corp. v. Jenkins, 131 N.J. Super. 336, 329 A.2d 604 (Cty. Ct. 1974) (holding that where a judgment creditor has accepted voluntary payments in lieu of enforcing  [***6]  his execution, a junior creditor with a later execution is entitled to satisfaction first.) Once in effect, that execution retains priority over other, later executions although it may be modified to accommodate the aims of justice. N.J.S.A. 2A:17-55. This is the policy reason behind the mandatory language in N.J.S.A. 2A:17-50. The mandatory scheme was created to avoid a situation in which one judge denies a wage execution and another judge thereafter grants one to a less diligent junior  [*305]  creditor. That is the evil which flows when the discretionary view of an initial grant of an execution is adopted.

Although this protects a debtor being garnished for more than the amount allowed under the provisions of N.J. Stat. § 2A:17-56  which limits the amount which may be garnished, each garnishment may be enforced in turn and as a result the wages of those who have experienced serious debt problems may be garnished for many years.


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