Florida Court’s Garnishment of Account At Extraterritorial Bank

Jon Alper Writ Of Garnishment

Judgment debtors may want to open bank accounts at banks located exclusively outside of Florida in order to deter garnishment of their bank accounts after a judgment is entered. It is more expensive and time consuming for a creditor to transfer its Florida judgment to another state so that the foreign state’s court issue a writ of garnishment against accounts situated in the foreign bank.

An issue is whether a Florida court can issue a garnishment directed at a bank located exclusively outside of Florida. A creditor could argue that the Florida court’s personal jurisdiction over the debtor gives the court power to garnish any bank account owned by the debtor wherever the account is located.

Researching this issue for a client I found a 2015 federal district court case that dealt with this issue. The federal court found that a Florida court needs not only personal jurisdiction over the debtor but also jurisdiction over the bank and the bank account. The court said that Florida courts do not have jurisdiction over foreign accounts, and therefore, the Florida court lacks jurisdiction to issue writs of garnishment seeking to garnish funds held in bank accounts outside the State of Florida.

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