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In Florida, can a joint bank account be frozen by a writ of garnishment if the judgment is only against one account holder?

Orlando, FL |

My wife was sued by a major credit card company for outstanding debt long unpaid. She chose to keep this a secret and ignore the court summons. She was the only defendent in the case. By definition, she would be considered the head of household, since her current income is somewhat larger than mine. Our joint bank account was frozen because of the judgment against her. My pay is direct deposit. What right do I have to access my funds?

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Attorney answers 1


The short answer is "yes," it can be least temporarilly. Your wife should immediately file a "Claim of Exemption and Requet for Hearing" in the court proceeding. If she is head of household, then the judgment creditor will not be allowed to garnish any funds in the account directly traceable to her wages. If the account has been co-mingled with other monies (i.e., loans, gifts, husband's monies, etc.) the monies may still be partially exempt, but she will need to provide the court with proof that shows what in the account is her wages. This will come down to providing good evidence of the source of the funds.

Also. If this account was expressly titled Tenants by the ENtireties (i.e., TBE) then you have an additional argument that the account cannot be touched at all because the judgment is not against the account owner, the Tenancy. To qualify as TBE, the account either needs to expressly say it is being held as tenants by the entireties on the application OR it needs to have "unities" present. Essentially, it must have been opened while married, opended using the same document, you each have the same rights, and it has survivorship qualities. The Florida Supreme Court case that governs and creates this presumption is "BealBank."

File your claim of exemption. Request a hearing. Gather docs showing this account is either TBE or the monies in the account are in fact wages. Then contact this creditor (or their counsel) and try to work out a deal. This will not just go away.