Garnishment Of Head Of Household Wages Allowed By Florida Court

The exemption from wage garnishments for debtor’s who are head of household is not absolute. The wage garnishment exemption statute provides that a debtor can waive his head of household exemption in writing. A creditor may insert in a promissory note, credit agreement, or mortgage note a provision that the debtor waives the wage exemption from execution in the event a creditor gets a judgment for amounts due under the note or credit agreement.

I read a case decided last October where a bank issued a wage garnishment against a judgment debtor who was head of household. The bank argued to the court that the debtor waived his wage exemption because the note included a waiver paragraph. The debtor argued that the waiver language was “small print.” He said that the waiver language was not obvious enough to constitute an intentional voluntary waiver of the garnishment exemption.

The court upheld the wage garnishment even though it acknowledged that the debtor is head of household. The court found that the waiver statute does not prescribe any particular language or font size to effect a waiver- only that the waiver be “in writing.” The court held that the parties intent is evidenced by their written agreement in the note including giving the creditor the right to pursue the debtor’s earnings in event of default.

 Just because you are head of household do not assume that a creditor can never garnish your wages. You must carefully read your loan agreements and promissory notes to see if they include waivers of the exemption. The case is USAMERIBANK v. KLEPAL

Page last updated on May 22, 2020

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