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If you owe money to someone and it is a legitimate debt, they can take action to seize your wages. If you have children to feed, mortgage, or rent to pay, gas for your car so you can get to work, this can be a devastating problem. Your creditor can go to court and apply for garnishment against your wages. The scary part about this is that the ruling in the state of Florida goes on until the debt is paid in full, which could take years.

Here is something that could help you. Florida Wage GarnishmentWage garnishment in Florida is not permitted against a debtor who qualifies as the head of the household. This exemption is complex. A debtor who receives notice that his wages have been garnished has several methods of asserting a head-of-household exemption. The garnishing creditor is required to provide the garnished debtor with a claim of exemption form. The debtor may claim a head-of-household (or other exemption) exemption on the form, mail the exemption form to the court, and wait for the court to schedule a hearing on the head-of-household exemption. A more assertive debtor can file a motion to dissolve the wage garnishment and request an expedited hearing.

In the same court case that the creditor got a judgment against you, the creditor will file a Motion for a Continuing Writ of Garnishment. This motion is done ex-parte, which means without notice to you. After filing the motion, the judge will usually grant the Writ of Continuing Wage Garnishment, which is then served onto your employer. Once your employer receives it, the creditor must give you a copy of the motion along with other documents (including the claim of exemption).

Once your employer receives the Writ of Continuing Wage Garnishment, it will immediately begin freezing a portion of your wages–usually up to 25 percent. But that’s not the end of the process. The employer has 20 days to file an answer (response) to the Writ of Continuing Wage Garnishment and serve a copy of that answer to the creditor. You also will have an opportunity to object to the wage garnishment and claim any exemptions that apply. If you don’t object, or if your objections fail, then the judge will issue an Order of Wage Garnishment. That ends the process until the creditor is fully paid.

Keep in mind that some debts bypass the above process. For example, if you owe money for income taxes, child support, or student loans, then your wages can be garnished without a court order.

Debtors who are not head of household, or who have waived their head of household garnishment protection, may have their wages garnished only up to limits allowed by federal law. The Consumer Credit Protection Act limits wage garnishments to no more than the lesser of 25 percent of a debtor’s disposable weekly income or disposable earnings equal to 30 times the Federal minimum wage. However, greater amounts may be garnished to enforce tax debts or court-ordered domestic support obligations.

Bankruptcy can get rid of garnishments for you. If you think your wages might be garnished, you should consider having a consultation with a bankruptcy attorney as soon as possible. Carolyn Secor P.A. focuses its practice in the areas of Bankruptcy and Foreclosure Defense in Clearwater, Florida. For more information, go to our web site or call 727-335-7151.