How To Stop A Wage Garnishment In Florida

What is a Wage Garnishment?

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.

How Can a Creditor Garnish My Wages?

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.

How Can I Stop a Florida Wage Garnishment?

If you have been notified that your wages will be garnished, you will need to act quickly. The time from the judgment until the garnishment begins can be as little as a few days. Contact a Florida Wage Garnishment Attorney as soon as possible to discuss your options and the possible exemptions you may qualify for.

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

What Are 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 the 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. The notice must be sent 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. The claim of exemption and request for a 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 court hearing will not be necessary to dismiss the garnishment.

Incorrect Garnishment Judgement:

If the debtor believes that the garnishment judgment was made in error, the judgment can then be contested. It is important to hire a Florida Wage Garnishment Attorney for the best way forward, if you have already completed payments for the debt, if it was included and then discharged in a bankruptcy or if it never belonged to you in the first place.

Using Bankruptcy to Stop Garnishment:

Immediately after a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy case is filed an automatic stay will be enacted. The automatic stay requires all collections efforts to immediately stop, including garnishments. The automatic stay is often the quickest way to stop a wage garnishment. Unlike filing for the head of household exemption, you do not have to wait weeks or months for a court hearing to stop the garnishment. Instead, the garnishment must be stopped as soon as the bankruptcy case is filed.

Additionally, you may be able to discharge the judgment in your bankruptcy case. The discharge is a court order releasing you from all personal liability on the debt. This is important because the head of household process does not eliminate the debt, it only temporarily stops the garnishment.

Contact a Florida Wage Garnishment Attorney Today

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I file for head of household?

How do you stop wage garnishment in Florida?

Will bankruptcy stop a garnishment?

Can they garnish wages without notice?

How long does the automatic stay stop the garnishment?

57 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.

  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

  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?

  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

  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.

  6. Al T.
    Al T. says:

    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.

  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.

  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.

  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!

  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!!

  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.

  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!

    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 ….

    • 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.

  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?

  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.

  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!!

  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.

  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.

  19. Steven
    Steven says:

    Just was notified my employer is to start garnishing my wages. I work and my wife just started a job but makes real little and we have four kids

  20. Nicole b
    Nicole b says:

    My wages are being garnished for an unpaid hospital bill. When i sent in all my paystubs , rent reciepts and everything i pay out to their lawyers. I told the lawyers I have no idea what hospital bill they are talking about i have been a victim in the past of identity fraud and i have never recieved this hospital bill. They want to garnish 25% of my wages. I got the letter yesterday. I need to know what i can do to fight this. Please send me an email as i am at work today. I get out at 8pm. Thank you.

  21. Patrick H.
    Patrick H. says:

    A new creditor garnishment has started coming out of my paycheck this week and I was given no notification and have no idea who the creditor is


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