Can Creditor Garnish Unemployment Benefits Paid To Debtor Who Is Not Head of Household?

Creditors cannot garnish wages of Florida resident who is head of household. Wages earned by the spouse who is not head of household is subject to garnishment. Sometimes clients ask me what compensation is included in the definition of “wages” which are either exempt or are subject to garnishment.

This week I met with a married joint debtors. The husband debtor had a job and his income supported the family. The wife debtor has lost her job and was receiving unemployment compensation from the government. The couple understood that the husband’s wages were exempt, but he wanted to know if the joint creditor could garnish unemployment benefits paid the wife debtor. If unemployment income is a form of wages then it logically could be garnished.

Unemployment benefits may be income for tax purposes but the payments are not wages subject to garnishment. Florida Statute 443.051 states that any unemployment compensation payable under state law may not be assigned and are exempt from all creditor claims.

Last updated on May 22, 2020

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