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Can a head of household resident of Florida, wages be garnished if employer's main office is out of state.

Lehigh Acres, FL |

I live and work full time in Florida. My employer is located in Virginia. 100% of my work is completed in Florida. Can this be a loophole for my wages to be garnished? I have read conflicting reports on this everywhere.... Has anyone ran into this situation?

Attorney Answers 4

Posted

It does not matter where the employer is located, it matters where you reside. It would not matter where you worked, it would only matter if you resided in Florida. You can read other conflicting things about guardianship in the Florida Statutes, which confuse even attorneys. See the exemption statutes in Chapter 222.

R. Jason de Groot, Esq.,

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Posted

I don't believe so. So long as you qualify and the case is actually in Florida, the Employer's state of incorporation is irrelevant.

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Posted

If you have a judgment in Florida, a child support lien, or a federal judgment against you (i.e., tax lien from the IRS), your wages can be garnished regardless of where your employer is located. The best bet would be to contact the person pursuing your wages and try to work out a payment plan. Otherwise, the bulk of your monthly income could be garnished to satisfy the debt. Depending on the type of garnishment, you should consult with a local attorney to decide if the debt is valid and/or if garnishment could be prevented.

This comment is provided for informational purposes only, and is not to be considered legal advice and/or the establishment of an attorney/client relationship.

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Asker

Posted

Yes, I do understand that there is no protection from CS, Tax or College loans... This is a civil case between two private parties. My apologies for not explaining in further detail.

Posted

I agree with my colleagues that it is your residence that controls.

Now, I disagree with them. :)

They are presuming that the final judgment was entered in Florida. Your question leaves open the possibility that you might have been sued elsewhere. Like a state which does not have the same protections that Florida does. I had a case once where my client was sued in New York, judgment entered, moved to Florida. The NY lawyers had a Writ issued by the Clerk in NY. The Writ was directed to Chase Bank. Client was putting $ into her account here in WPB, but Chase also operates in NY.
Fortunately, the amount in the account was very small, and my client filed for BKC soon thereafter.

The thing is that in NY, there is no protection for the wages of a head of family. Up there, it does not matter if you are the only parent living with 20 kids, the wages get withheld and sent to the judgment creditor.

I have had a situation where I garnished wages and the employer sent me the money right away, because that is what they were used to in their state.

So, it would be worth your time to research VA law to anticipate what your employer would do if they were served with a garnishment writ issued from a court in VA or of another state.

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Asker

Posted

Thank you for your response. There are a couple of things here that she could have done to fix this. One, close the bank acct that was created in NY and open another based in Fla. This is how they were able to attach to that bank acct. Second, all judgments are to be domesticated to the debtor's current state of residence and must abide by their laws as per the Unified Judgment Act. I have already prep advised my employer of the proper procedure of garnishment. Therefor, any request for garnishment not coming from Florida, they will deny.

Jeffrey B. Lampert

Jeffrey B. Lampert

Posted

Absolutely. That is what I tell my clients--open an account that exists only in Florida, and in Palm Beach County for convenience--that is where I practice. Speaking of practice, I do not pretend to know it all. It is a practice. So, I do not mind asking you about the Uniform Judgment Act that you refer to. I am familiar with the Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgment Act and the Florida version. I am not familiar with a law that REQUIRES domestication in the state of residence of the judgment debtor, so if you could clue me in to that provision it would be appreciated. See, I think your situation as described is almost perfect for this discussion. Lets say you were sued in NY and a judgment entered there. The judgment creditor wants to garnish your wages. It would make more sense for them to domesticate the judgment in VA knowing they could garnish your employer. Or domesticate the judgment in a state where you might own real estate. What law would require the creditor to domesticate in Florida and no other location?

Asker

Posted

Firstly, please accept my apologies if I offended you. This was not my intent. Please see the below excerpt from the Florida Statute: 55.503 Recording and status of foreign judgments; fees.— (1) A copy of any foreign judgment certified in accordance with the laws of the United States or of this state may be recorded in the office of the clerk of the circuit court of any county. The clerk shall file, record, and index the foreign judgment in the same manner as a judgment of a circuit or county court of this state. A judgment so recorded shall have the same effect and shall be subject to the same rules of civil procedure, legal and equitable defenses, and proceedings for reopening, vacating, or staying judgments, and it may be enforced, released, or satisfied, as a judgment of a circuit or county court of this state.

Asker

Posted

and this one too: 55.606 Personal jurisdiction.—The out-of-country foreign judgment shall not be refused recognition for lack of personal jurisdiction if: (4) The defendant was domiciled in the foreign state when the proceedings were instituted, or, being a body corporate, had its principal place of business, was incorporated, or had otherwise acquired corporate status, in the foreign state;

Jeffrey B. Lampert

Jeffrey B. Lampert

Posted

Ah, but the series of 55.601 series has nothing to do with your situation. 55.601 starts the Out-of-country judgment enforcement, as in Germany, Japan, etc.. 55.505 has to do with domestication of a judgment entered in another state of the United States or in a Federal Court of the US.

Jeffrey B. Lampert

Jeffrey B. Lampert

Posted

Absolutely no offense taken. I was being quite candid--unlike some of my colleagues, I do not believe I know it all, or even most, and do not pretend that I do. But, I think I am correct that there is no such law that requires a judgment from another state or the US to be domesticated in the state of residence of the judgment debtor. What 55.505 says is that *IF* there is a judgment from another state and *IF * you want to enforce it in Florida, using the Sheriffs of this state, or garnishing, *THEN* you must follow this procedure. I do not read it to mean that a judgment creditor *MUST* domesticate in Florida. Only *if* they wish to enforce the judgment as though entered in a circuit or county court of Florida. I would venture to say that if you looked at the similar acts of the other states that it would more or less follow suit. Which leads us back to the proposition that a judgment creditor can establish a judgment anywhere and everywhere. Establish judgment liens in every state that has a Uniform-Act based law. Now, that would be a waste of money when dealing with individuals. Still, if you owned real estate in Georgia but lived in Florida, domesticating the judgment in Florida, only, would do nothing with regard to the land in Georgia. Seriously, these kinds of areas keeps the old-noggin working and interesting. Otherwise, law practice would be boring if it was all so cut and dried.

Asker

Posted

Agreed... This is a very confusing matter. I have had preliminary discussions with some asset attorneys and according to my "situation" they believe I would be protected but it is very complicated. If they win this case against me, total amount of the judgment would probably be less than their fees to protect my income.

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