I would like to clarify the head of household exemption from wage garnishment. To often, clients assert during our consultations that they know their wages cannot be garnished because they are “head of household.” It’s not that simple because debtors can waiver their head of household protection in writing.
Florida Statutes exempt from garnishment money paid to a debtor for personal services “whether denominated as wages, salary, commission, or bonus.” Sometimes a “bonus” is not really a bonus for personal services and is not exempt.
One of my clients had a judgment entered against him by a federal regulatory agency. The client was retired. His main source of income was social security.
I consulted with an asset protection client who was moving to Florida from Tennessee where he had previously set up an IRA with a bank’s investment department. I suggested that the client relocate the IRA to a Florida financial company or open an IRA with a national financial firm at its Florida office.
A person opens a bank account in a state other than Florida, and then he moves to Florida. The bank has Florida branches. If a creditor obtains a judgment against the same person the creditor would likely try to garnish the debtor’s bank account through a Florida writ of garnishment.
Many people are motivated to contact be because a creditor served a Florida writ of garnishment on their employer or bank account. One of their first questions is : “what should I do about the garnishment?”
Social security payments are exempt from garnishment under federal social security statutes. The IRS has collection remedies significantly more powerful than a creditor’s collection tools under state law.
Judgment debtors frequently maintain multiple bank accounts at particular banks. Some accounts may be in the debtor’s individual name and subject to the creditor’s writ of garnishment. Other accounts may be exempt joint accounts, wage accounts, or even accounts in the name of a separate, non-debtor business entity for which the debtor has signature authority.
Creditors cannot garnish wages of Florida debtors who qualify as head of household. That’s the general rule.
Florida statutes provide unlimited protection against wage garnishment when the debtor is head of household. This protection is very broad and effective, but some states have even better wage protection.