The creditor is able to freeze account before giving notice, for if it gave advance notice then debtors would withdraw money.
You will get a notice from the creditor because it is required by statute. The notice will explain how to claim your exemptions. Or, you can hire an attorney to make motion to dissolve the garnishment right away if you do qualify for an exemption.
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You do not have to wait to get the Claim of Exemption form--you can go to the Clerk's office at either the South County Judicial Complex at 200 W. Atlantic Avenue or the Main Courthouse at 205 North Dixie Highway. Both facilities have self-help centers, but if the judgment is for $15,000.00 or less, your case is in County Court, and the Clerks at the counter will have the form to give you.
Also, keep your eye on when the judgment creditor issues its notices to you. It must serve you with a copy of the Motion for Writ of Garnishment, the Writ of Garnishment, and the Claim of Exemption form within 5 days of issue of the Writ or 3 days of service of the Writ, whichever is later. Then, when the bank gives a response, the judgment creditor must send you another notice within 5 days.
The creditor has 3 days from your service of the Claim of Exemption if you hand deliver it or fax it and mail it, or 8 days from your service if you just mail it, to contest your Claim of Exemption, by a statement under oath. If they do not, then the Clerk is required to dissolve the Writ and no hearing on your Claim of Exemption is required.
Many of the Plaintiff's attorneys practice outside in other parts of the state, and are not aware, or do not care, of a particular requirement relating to the contest of your Claim of Exemption--that the Plaintiff itself and not the attorney representing the Plaintiff must execute the contest of Claim. That is because a ruling in the 4th District Court of Appeal decided last year interprets the statute that way, and Palm Beach County, Martin, Broward, St. Lucie, Okeechobee and Indian River Counties are bound by the 4th DCA decision. So, even if there is a contest of your Claim of Exemption, if it is only the attorney signing their document, you can still have the Writ dissolved, but you will need to bring the deficiency to the attention of the Court at the hearing.
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