A client asks: ” doesn’t the creditor have to find out if I’m head of household before they garnish my wages.” In other words, is your creditor obligated to check out your exemptions before taking action to collect a judgment? The general answer is: “no.”
Florida law does not require a judgment creditor to investigate and negate possible exemptions prior to making attempts to execute upon their judgment. In this clients case the creditor legally can serve a wage garnishment on the employer. The debtor has the burden of asserting head of household exemption and dissolving the garnishment in court. The same rule applies to garnishment of an exempt entireties account. The creditors writ of garnishment will freeze the account until the debtor takes action to dissolve the garnishment. In most cases, the debtor will need to pay an attorney if he wants the garnishment of an exempt asset removed quickly.
Florida law provides valuable exemptions; the law does not guarantee that the exemptions are self-executing or free.