How to garnish wages in Florida

Attorney Tom Olsen: When can you garnish someone's wages in Florida?

Attorney Colonel Airth: The rules about wage garnishment are complicated and they're also very specific. It starts when the employer gets served with a notice of garnishment. The employer then is obligated by law to withhold 25% of your take-home pay. They don’t do anything with it they just simply don’t pay you and they keep it. The theory is they have to keep it until there is a further order of the court about what to do with that money. The employee is usually notified within five days of the writ of garnishment. By then the plaintiff is almost invariably actually gotten the writ served, so you don’t find about out it until after the fact. The employee often files a claim of exemption because he or she is the head of the household which means your wages are exempt or if they are supporting someone by paying more than 50% of their financial needs. If you are supporting someone or you are the head of a household, then your wages cannot be garnished.  It does take an active response to that garnishment for you to be successful in claiming your exemptions, you have to claim it and you have to go to a hearing and you have to respond and the judge then rules on what the evidence is.

Attorney Tom Olsen: If you're a single person can you be the head of your own household?

Attorney Colonel Airth: No, you have to be supporting someone like your spouse of child or children.

Attorney Tom Olsen: If you're married and your spouse is making less than you, does that make you the head of the household?

Attorney Colonel Airth: That's correct, 

Attorney Tom Olsen: If you're paying child support and you're paying more than 50% of that child's needs, does that make you exempt for garnishing wages? 

Attorney Colonel Airth: That's correct.

Attorney Tom Olsen: So it sounds like the ability to garnish wages here in Florida is pretty limited?

Attorney Tom Olsen: Okay, very good. And so what other methods are you using to collect judgments against people?

Attorney Colonel Airth: Well, they're not many other methods unfortunately, you often times you find people are garnishing bank accounts. Bank account garnishment looks simple and they can be simple but often times you have exemptions from there too. Like for instance if you have people whose disability payments or whose social security payments or retirement payments are going to the bank account, if you try to seize that money out of their bank accounts those funds are exempt and they stay exempt. If you have those exempt wages that have been put into a bank account and if the wages are exempt when they went into the bank account they stay exempt for at least six months. Now if they're' there more than six months then they lose their exemption as wages because you really can’t say it's just a pile of money.