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Last Update: 10/10/20

A question that often comes up in my practice is whether, and to what extent, creditors can garnish a client’s wages if a deficiency judgment is sought by a creditor after foreclosure.  Under §77.01, Florida Statutes, every judgment creditor has a right to a writ of garnishment.  While the power of a creditor to garnish a debtor’s wages reaches pretty broadly, there are several exemptions and limitations to protect debtors.

One of the most notable exemptions applies to the earnings of the “head of family.”  The “head of family” is a person who provides more than one-half of the support for a dependent.  He or she can exempt from garnishment “disposable earnings,” which include wages, salary, commission and/or bonuses, up to $750 per week.  Florida Statute §222.11.  Earnings in excess of $750 per week are exempt as well, unless the debtor has agreed to make those funds available for garnishment in writing.

(Note: Disposable earnings of a person other than a head of family may not be attached or garnished in excess of the amount allowed under the Consumer Credit Protection Act, 15 U.S.C. s. 1673.)

Clearly, homeowners would not knowingly agree to voluntarily have their wages garnished.  There is one important exception to be aware of, and that is, money that lies dormant in a bank account for more than six months will no longer be considered “disposable income” and will then be subject to garnishment.  Therefore, it’s important to be vigilant when facing a garnishment action.

When asked by clients about how they can protect their income/assets from garnishment I always discuss with them the information above along with the benefits of using annuities, life insurance, disability income, pension funds and other techniques to protect their income/assets.

If you would like more information about this topic, please see Deficiency Judgment Counseling.  Alternatively, you may contact me, a Florida Real Estate Attorney, by email, or call me at (954) 458-8655 and I will be happy to answer your questions. I offer a free initial consultation.

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If so, feel free to ask Larry about the issues that concern you the most by sending him an email or by calling him now at (954) 458-8655.

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