Can Creditor Garnish Alimony And Support Payment Owed To Divorced Debtor?

I dealt with an interesting question today about alimony and support questions. Sometimes people ask me if there are asset protection tools to guard against awards for payment of alimony or support (generally, the answer is “no”) or what types of assets are vulnerable to enforce family court judgments. Today’s issue was different. A divorced woman was facing a large civil judgment. The divorce court awarded the woman alimony, and her ex-husband sent her monthly alimony checks. The woman depended upon the alimony to pay her basic costs of living. She wanted to know if a judgment creditor could garnish the alimony payments from the ex-husband.

Florida statute Chapter 222 which lists the asset exemptions applicable to Florida residents does not include an exemption for alimony or support. There is no exemption in the Florida constitution nor under federal law. Florida courts, however, have protected alimony and support from garnishment. One court held that alimony was not the type of debt or obligation subject to garnishment, and that public policy calls for the protection of alimony and support. See Waters 547 So 2d 197 . At least one bankruptcy court recognized this garnishment exemption.