A writ of garnishment is the creditor’s tool to attack money owed to the judgment debtor. Wages and salary constitute a debt owed by an employer to the debtor employee. A writ of wage garnishment enables the judgment creditor to take a portion of wages owed to the debtor. Wage garnishment is a special type of garnishment writ provided by Florida Statutes
A creditor holding a Florida judgment can cause the court to garnish a debtor’s wages or salary as long as required in order to satisfy a Florida judgment. What makes the wage garnishment particularly effective is the continuing application of the writ. A single writ served on the debtor’s employer will garnish all of the debtor’s salary and wages as they become payable in the future until the judgment is satisfied or the garnishment is dissolved. Garnishment writs directed at other debts or compensation, such as rents or payments to an independent contractor, apply only to payments due the debtor on the day the writ is served upon the garnishee. There are no continuing garnishments against any debts other than wages.
Wage garnishment is not permitted against a debtor who qualifies as the head of household. This exemption is complex and is discussed elsewhere on this website. A debtor who receives notice that his wages have been garnished has several methods of asserting a head of household exemption. The garnishing creditor is required to provide the garnished debtor with an exemption form. The debtor may claim head of household exemption on the form, mail the exemption form to the court, and wait for the court to schedule a hearing on the head of household exemption. A more assertive debtor can file a motion to dissolve the wage garnishment and request an expedited hearing.
Debtors who are not head of household, or who have waived their head of household garnishment protection, may have their wages garnished only up to limits allowed by federal law. The Consumer Credit Protection Act limits wage garnishments to no more than the lesser of twenty five percent of a debtor’s disposable weekly income or disposable earnings equal to thirty times the Federal minimum wage. However, greater amounts may be garnished to enforce tax debts or court ordered support obligations.
Wage garnishments, like all other garnishments, are subject to strict and detailed legal procedures. These procedural requirements applicable to writs of garnishment, in general, are discussed elsewhere on this website. The garnishment procedures are strictly construed and a seemingly insignificant procedural error in a creditor’s wage garnishment may provide grounds to dissolve the writ.