Florida law exempts from garnishment earning paid to a debtor who is head of household. Head of household means that the debtor provides most of the support for another person whom the debtor is legally obligated to support. Taxpayers claim as a tax dependent people whom they financially support. Usually, a head of household also claims as a tax dependent the family members whom he supports financially.
Divorces can complicate the analysis. Divorce settlements sometimes stipulate whether which ex-spouse may claim common children as tax dependents. The same agreement may require the other ex-spouse to pay for child support. Having one spouse pay for support and the other spouse claim the tax deduction for dependents may be prudent tax planning that is part of divorce negotiation.
Claiming a tax deduction for a child dependent is evidence of support as head of household; dependency for tax purposes is not a requirement for head of household status. The court should consider all pertinent evidence to see if the debtor claiming the exemption provides most of the support for another family member whom the debtor is obligated to support. Paying support pursuant to a contractual divorce agreement is a legal obligation that should warrant head of household garnishment exemption.
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