State Codes and Statutes

State Codes and Statutes

Statutes > North-carolina > Chapter_131E > GS_131E-49

§ 131E‑49. Procedure for garnishment.

(a)        A public hospital may move the court in the county whereinthe debtor resides for an order for garnishment of the disposable earnings ofthe debtor after 10 days following the entry of a judgment for a sum certainfor hospital services rendered if the following conditions have been met:

(1)        The public hospital has made reasonable efforts to collectthe bill from any third‑party payors;

(2)        The public hospital has waited for a period of at least 120days following the mailing of the bill for hospital services rendered to thedebtor's last known address; and

(3)        The public hospital has sent a certified letter to thedebtor's last known address which includes information that the debtor'sdisposable earnings may be subject to wage garnishment unless the debtor showsthe hospital that his family income is at or below two hundred percent (200%)of the annual federal poverty guidelines.  The letter shall include thedefinition of family, family income, the current federal poverty guidelines ineffect at the time of the letter, and the procedures to contest the proposedgarnishment.

(b)        The court may enter an order of garnishment following noticerequirements set forth in this Article and a hearing held pursuant to the motionfor garnishment.  Provided, however, that the court shall not enter an order ofgarnishment unless the court makes findings of fact that the current familyincome of the debtor, at the time of the hearing, exceeds two hundred percent(200%) of the guidelines.  The notice of the motion for garnishment shallinclude information that the debtor's disposable earnings shall not begarnished if the debtor shows that his current family income is at or below twohundred percent (200%) of the annual federal poverty guidelines and thedefinition of family, family income, and the guidelines shall be attached tosuch notice.  The notice shall also state the procedures and duties applicableunder this Article, including the procedures the debtor should follow to contestthe proposed garnishment.  The court shall presume that the current familyincome of the debtor exceeds two hundred percent (200%) of the federal povertyguidelines if the debtor or his representative fails to appear at the hearingheld on the motion for garnishment.  If an order for garnishment is entered, acopy of the order shall be served on the debtor and the garnishee eitherpersonally or by certified or registered mail, return receipt requested.

(c)        The court shall not enter an order of garnishment if thedebtor is making regular payments to the public hospital that are equal to tenpercent (10%) of the debtor's monthly disposable earnings.  Further, the courtshall not enter an order of garnishment if the debtor satisfactorily shows thathe is making a good faith effort to obtain payment for hospital services from athird‑party payor.

(d)        The court shall not enter an order of garnishment whichexceeds ten percent (10%) of the debtor's monthly disposable earnings.  Thecourt shall not enter an order of garnishment which is in effect for a periodin excess of 60 months from the date of the initial order of garnishment.

(e)        The amount garnished shall be increased by an additional onedollar ($1.00) processing fee to be assessed and retained by the garnishee foreach payment under the order.

(f)         The garnishment order shall be subject to review formodification or dissolution upon the filing of a motion in the cause.  Thegarnishment order shall be dissolved upon a showing by the debtor that hiscurrent family income equals or is less than two hundred percent (200%) of theannual federal poverty guidelines issued by the United States Department ofHealth and Human Services in effect at the time of the hearing on the motion.

(g)        Upon receipt of an order of garnishment, the garnishee shalltransmit the amount ordered by the court to be garnished to the clerk of courtwho shall disburse it to the public hospital.  The garnishee shall not berequired to change normal pay cycles, but shall make every effort to ensurethat payments are received as soon as practicable.  The garnishment order shallsimplify the withholding process for garnishees to the extent possible. (1987 (Reg. Sess., 1988), c. 880, s. 1.)