A civil creditor can execute a money judgment against military pay owed to an active member of the U.S. military. While the creditor would use a “continuing writ of garnishment” to execute upon the earnings of a civil, non-military debtor, federal law provides for a different collection tool against service members. The civil creditor applies to the military for an “Involuntary Allotment” which requires the allotment of up to 25% of the service member’s pay to satisfy the judgment. A Florida resident joins the military and is deployed outside of Florida. Before joining the military this person was sued by a credit card company resulting in a money judgment. The credit card company applied for an Involuntary Allotment. The debtor supports a spouse who lives in Florida. The issues is whether Florida’s head of household exemption from wage garnishment prohibits an Involuntary Allotment against a service member deployed outside of Florida and paid outside of Florida.
I have not seen any court decision on point. The debtor is still Florida resident because his absence from the state is required by the military and is temporary. The military has an interest is having its servicemen payoff their judgments and debts through involuntary allotment. There is conflict between the military’s policy and the exemption afforded by Florida’s statutes. The Federal Wage Garnishment Law under the Consumer Credit Protection Act provides that garnishment of federal wages are subject to State laws prohibiting or limiting garnishments.
This debtor will object to the Involuntary Allotment as being prohibited from Florida’s wage garnishment exemption. It will be interesting to see whether the creditor or the military accepts the claim of exemption.