Texas Supreme Court Lifts Ban on Garnishment, Debt Collection Actions

The Texas Supreme Court yesterday issued updated emergency orders that lifts a temporary ban that had been in place barring evictions and debt collection lawsuits and garnishments. Proceedings for evictions and debt collection activity in the state can resume next week, according to the orders.

A copy of the order regarding debt collection activities can be accessed by clicking here.

The new order is to remain in place through August 12.

While the issuance and service of writs and garnishments are now allowed, individuals may request a hearing — either to be held in person or remotely — within two business days of the court’s receipt of the request, in order to determine whether any of the funds being garnished are subject to a stimulus payment received as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Judgment creditors are required under the new emergency order to send a notice to individuals that notifies them that the funds they received under the CARES Act may be subject to a court stay protecting those those funds during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The new order is intended to replace an earlier order issued by the Texas Supreme Court. The previous order also allowed for requests for default judgment to be filed, but placed a ban on hearings and suspended the time to respond or file an answer until May 18. The new order did not mention the extension of those provisions.

Consumer advocates were quick to call out the Supreme Court for ending the moratoriums too quickly.

“People that have been unemployed are taking weeks to get their payment. Stimulus checks are also taking weeks,” said William Ritter, staff attorney with the Veterans Legal Assistance Program of the Texas Legal Services Center, in a published report. More time is needed for folks that are trying to save their homes,” he said.

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