Garnishment occurs when a creditor takes legal action to seize a portion of your wages, bank account, or other assets. In wage garnishment cases, the creditor will contact your employer and have your employer deduct a specified amount of money from your check each week to be forwarded to the creditor. Wage garnishments can be particularly devastating to debtors (borrowers) because the writ of garnishment is continuing. Therefore, a single writ of garnishment can continue to garnish wages until the full amount of the debt is paid. Fortunately, debtors in Florida do have many legal options to prevent or stop a wage garnishment. If you are threatened with a wage garnishment or your wages are already being garnished, contact a Florida wage garnishment attorney in the Tampa Bay area for help.

Most creditors will not be permitted to seek a wage garnishment until they have first obtained a judgment (court order) allowing them to collect the debt. However, unpaid income taxes, court ordered child support, and student loans are the exception to this rule, they will not be required to obtain a judgment prior to seeking garnishment. Creditors will have up to 20 years to collect the funds owed under a judgment. See Florida Statute 55.081. The statute of limitations to collect on a judgment is substantially longer than most other debts. The statute of limitations on most other debts is typically only 5 years. See Florida Statute 95.11.

Head of Household Exemption in Florida:
Under Florida Statute 222.11, if you qualify as a head of household you may be legally entitled to stop a wage garnishment. The head of a household is someone who pays at least 50% of the living expenses for a dependent. The term “dependent” in head of household cases is broad and can include many different types of situations, children are not the only type of dependent that will qualify under the law. For instance, dependent may include an aunt, uncle, parent, or even a former spouse receiving alimony. See Killian v. Lawson.

If the debtor can prove they qualify as a head of household and their net income is less than $750 per week, the wage garnishment will not be permitted. If the debtor’s net income exceeds $750, the creditor may be permitted to attach the garnishment to the amount that exceeds $750 per week. The debtor seeking head of household protection will have the burden of proving they qualify for the exemption.

It is important to note, the head of household exemption does not protect tax refunds from garnishment. Tax refunds are not considered wages, thus are not protected under the head of household statute.

Other Exemptions That Can Stop Garnishments:
Head of household is not the only exemption that can be used to stop a garnishment. For instance, exemptions to garnishments may also include: social security benefits, welfare, workers’ compensation, veterans’ benefits, pensions, life insurance benefits, and disability income benefits.

Alternatively, the debtor may be able to file a lawsuit to vacate the judgment. If the judgment is vacated, the previous court order granting the judgment to the creditor will be null and void. Whether or not vacating a judgment will be a successful option depends on the facts and circumstances of each case. If you think you may have legal grounds to vacate a judgment contact a wage garnishment lawyer for assistance.

Federal Protection From Garnishment:
Under Federal law 15 U.S.C. 1673, garnishments may not exceed 25% of a debtor’s disposable income. This protection applies to all debtors, not just those you qualify as head of household. This limit applies to the total amount of garnishments; thus, even if a debtor is facing multiple garnishments, the total garnishment may not exceed 25%. However, the garnishment may exceed 25% of the debtor’s disposable income if the disposable income exceeds 30 times the federal minimum wages per week. In these cases, the garnishment will be limited to the lesser of either 25% of the debtor’s disposable income or 30 times the federal minimum wages per week.

Procedure to Stop Wage Garnishments in Florida:
When a creditor seeks a garnishment, the clerk of court must send notice to the debtor regarding the garnishment. The notice must inform the debtor of the garnishment and the right to file an exemption. The debtor must file any exemptions to the garnishment within 20 days of receiving the notice. See Florida Statute 77.041. Additionally, the creditor must send the debtor notice of the garnishment, by first class mail within 5 business days of the writ of garnishment being issued.

If the debtor timely files a claim of exemption and request for a hearing, the creditor will 14 business days from the date they are served a copy of the exemption by mail to file a sworn written statement that answers the debtor’s claim of exemption. If the claim of exemption and request for hearing is hand delivered the creditor will only have 8 business to respond. If the creditor fails to timely respond to the debtor’s claim of exemption the court will automatically cancel the garnishment, a hearing will not be necessary.

Contact a Florida Wage Garnishment Attorney:
If you are threatened with a wage garnishment or your wages are already being garnished contact Florida Law Advisers to schedule a consultation with a Florida Wage Garnishment Attorney. Our initial consultation is free and we offer flexible payment options. At Florida Law Advisers, we take an aggressive approach to stopping wage garnishments. We understand how devastating wage garnishments can be to a family, and we vigorously fight to defend our client’s rights. Call us today to speak with a wage garnishment lawyer, we are available to answer your calls 24/7.

42 replies
  1. Richard W.
    Richard W. says:

    I am looking to stop a wage garnishment. I was not notified prior to the week it was taken out. I could not dispute it at all .I would like to speak with a lawyer regarding this matter.

    Reply
  2. Mindy Burres
    Mindy Burres says:

    I am looking into stopping a wage garnishment.. i am totally lost in this whole thing! Would like to speak with someone to find out my rights.. Please email due to being at work.. Thank you

    Reply
  3. Maria
    Maria says:

    I received notice by mail the week prior to being paid about the garnishment from the people who do the payroll where I work. I’m confused about the garnishment, it stated that 25% of my disposable income would be garnished. Yet 25% of my total earnings for that check was garnished. I’ve already filed for exemption, but:
    1. Is there a way to correct the garnishment amount? (While I am waiting for a hearing.)
    2. How long would it take after filing exemption would you hear anything from anyone?

    Reply
  4. Miguelle M
    Miguelle M says:

    My salary has been garnished this week for the first time. While I am waiting for an hearing, how can I stop the garnisment

    Reply
  5. Mary P
    Mary P says:

    I’m probably going to sound like everyone else, but I just received a notice about garnishment from a case that is dated 2007 that I knew nothing about and they’ve garnished my wages for 25%. I’m the only one working right now and I can’t afford that much. Nor do I think it’s fair to have to file for a hearing after I’m being garnished and having to pay to get it notarized. Is there any way to stop this or at least reach out to someone to get this lowered? I can’t afford this. I”m being sued for a computer I’ve never had.

    Reply
  6. Al T.
    Al T. says:

    Hi,
    Left Puerto Rico with a car debt. The car was surrender, now wondering if they can sue me and garnish my check? Also, have an online account in another state. Would the garnishing laws of that state be in order because that is where they are located or would Florida garnishing law apply to that account because this state is my resident. Please note they only have branches in that state. Look forward to your reply.
    Thanks,

    Reply
  7. Jean
    Jean says:

    Hi, I have paid 300 a month credit card company garnishment for 3 years. The debt collection agency that started the garnishment has sold the debt to another debt collection agency last August and my employer says the garnishment money has been in limbo since that time. The initial debt collection agency will not take the money and the new debt collection agency will not take the money either. I want to know if there is anyway for me to stop the garnish and receive the money back that is in limbo.

    Reply
  8. Ingrid
    Ingrid says:

    Hi, my salary is currently being garnished and I can’t afford these payments I can barely make ends meet. Is there a way they can lower this garnishment.

    Reply
  9. Lorri Thomas
    Lorri Thomas says:

    Hi there, I hope you can help us. We recently refinanced our home to get out of a previous bad mortgage and to make much needed repairs on our home. I have recently just returned to the workforce as I have been out of work for 3 years after having a stroke. My husband has previously been the main provider for our family. Today we received a notification from our bank that they had our monies we received from our house refinancing on hold because of a garnishment from a past old debt of my husband. We never received any type of notice from the court, nor this creditor. We really need to be able to access the monies to begin making repairs on our home. Is there anything we can do? Please let me know if you can help for refer us to someone who can. Please and thank you!

    Reply
  10. Lucy B.
    Lucy B. says:

    I am in the middle of a 2 year long dissolution of marriage with minor child case and have a lawyer. She suggested I contact an attorney to assist me in this matter. My wages will be garnished for 25% starting next week, for cars my soon to be ex and I jointly owned. His was repossessed. Mine was a voluntary repossession. I believe his wages are being garnished as well. I filed head of household for the past 2 tax years- can I claim the exemption and stop my wages from being garnished? Waiting for the family law judge to separate our cars, making him responsible for one, and me responsible for the other. Currently, both our names are on both cars, and neither of us is in possession of either vehicles anymore. Thank you!!

    Reply
  11. Todd Stauffer
    Todd Stauffer says:

    I didn’t realize that social security benefits could help you stop a wage garnishment from occurring. Having a good lawyer who you could stay in touch with would be a good idea if you are working on something like this. That way you could present a case to defend yourself from this kind of thing and help you to save some money.

    Reply
  12. Millie Hue
    Millie Hue says:

    I never took into account that we can also include our extended family as dependents. My mother, being the head of the household, also takes care of her siblings aside from us. This is a very useful information for her. Thanks for the help!

    Reply
  13. CAROLYN
    CAROLYN says:

    Already garnished my checking account.took everything out..served a notice in 2014. I never,saw it..husband signed …he is now deceased and I pay all the bills which i can barely survive..was so shocked to see they wiped out my checking account leaving Me notthing .spoke with my friends attorney who said call and set up payments ….it was an old credit card from 2004 that I stopped using and paying on back then 14 years ago.was told I could do nothing else ..the card was a $5000.amount and now they want $10,000.00 paid back…interest ,penalties ect…was told can’t fight this…bankruptcy next if need be, but own some property up north..can’t sell that over night ….

    Reply
    • Florida Law Advisers
      Florida Law Advisers says:

      Hi Brittany, one of our Attorneys will reach out to you shortly. Thank you for your inquiry! If you’d like to be contact by phone please fill out our free case review form on the home page.

      Reply
  14. Mary D.
    Mary D. says:

    Fell behind and High Interest Creditors are threatening to garnish my wages. I am a single mom head of household and cant get ahead. I have enrolled in a debt settlement agreement and they are taking over 370 out a month to settle my 4 debts but the creditors are calling everyone and threatening me. Can they take my payroll? How can I stop this. I make good money but I didn’t then and to catch up is impossible now. Do I just file bankruptcy?
    MD

    Reply
  15. Carmen S.
    Carmen S. says:

    Was just garnished a large amount of money I am the head of household and can not afford this. I am at work today till 5:00 PM my normal schedule is 11:00 AM to 8:00 PM so can not receive calls. Please email me any information or call after 5:00 PM today.

    Reply
  16. TORRE P.
    TORRE P. says:

    Im totally lost, I wasnt informed about this until the day i got paid and i was missing 240 dollars from my check .. Please someone reach out to me!!

    Reply
  17. Wallace
    Wallace says:

    I currently have 15% of my wages garnished for student loan debt. I let it go for 6 months and now I have a letter stating that they want a tax offset if I don’t make payments in addition to the $420 a month they take out each month. How can I get these garnishments stopped since and I am the head of household with the only income.

    Reply
  18. Benjamin P.
    Benjamin P. says:

    Creditor began garnishing wages, filled out exemption but idk where to mail it. I feel like I am over my head. Need help. Bankruptcy is a viable option. Please contact me.

    Reply

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