Florida asset protection law is less effective when a creditor has a money judgment issued by a court on another state. Two of my married clients found this out when the husband, who is head of household, had his wages garnished by a South Carolina court
The married couple are Florida residents. The husband worked in Florida for a computer company with its principal place of business in Florida. The husband was paid bi-weekly from the employer’s payroll department located in Florida.
A creditor had sued the couple in South Carolina for a mortgage deficiency following a foreclosure of their South Carolina vacation home. The creditor applied for a continuing writ of garnishments of the husband’s wages in the S. Carolina court. The husband hired South Carolina legal counsel to defeat the wage garnishment in South Carolina. His attorney argued that because the husband lived and working in Florida for a Florida company his wages were exempt under Florida’s wage garnishment statute.
The South Carolina court upheld the wage garnishment. The court said it had jurisdiction over the employer and the garnishment because the employer company maintained a satellite office in South Carolina. There is a continuing writ in place against the husband’s wages subject to the maximum limits under federal law. The couple and their attorney filed an appeal in South Carolina.
This case is another example of the practical problems Florida residents experience when they are sued in another state. Florida exemptions cannot be exported to another state. Courts in foreign states that have jurisdiction over the Florida resident, and in this case the employer as well, tend to ignore Florida’s asset protection laws.
I recommend to my clients that they move their financial accounts to Florida institutions which have no offices outside the state. At least, accounts at national financial firms should be serviced from a Florida branch. Financial assets including bank accounts, securities accounts and even retirement accounts clearly protected in Florida may be exposed when judgments are executed in other states.