Garnishment

Bite Sized Law: FL 222.11 Exemption of Wages from Garnishment

This entry is going to break down a very important part of Florida law – the exemption of wages from garnishment actions. This is a part of Title 15: Homestead and Exemptions: Chapter 222: Section 11. For anyone facing garnishment, you need to know your rights and what is exempt from garnishment, and more than that you need to understand what your creditors can and can’t do. As I have pointed out, garnishment is the last resort of creditors because it costs them in attorney’s hours and court fees. These debt chasing companies have to believe that there’s a better than average chance that they’ll get paid before they retain a lawyer and file in court. Let’s get started on understanding 222.11 exemption of wages from garnishment!

222.11(1a, b, c)

This part of the 222.11 exemption of wages from garnishment sets forth what earnings are. Basically, these are wages, commissions, salary, and even bonuses – cash ‘spiffs’ included – that you bring home as your pay for a job. Disposable earnings are what’s left over when all the withholdings required by law have been paid. Lastly, subsection C defines the head of family as the person who is providing more than half of the the support for a dependent adult or a child. 

222.11(2a, b, c)

This part of the statute further refines the earnings of the head of the family and what is and is not garnishable. It’s the law that the head of family’s wages equal to $750 or less per week $39,000 or less per year cannot be garnished unless you waive protection from garnishment. Disposable earnings above $750 a week may not be garnished without agreement from the garnishee unless protection from garnishment is waived in writing. 

Waiving Protection from Garnishment

As for waiving protection from garnishment – DON’T DO THAT! There’s a lot of pressure to sign that waiver, oftentimes involving threats of lawsuits and other inducements. Again, the exemption of wages from garnishment is there to make sure that you can take care of your family, though the $750 barely covers anything in this modern world and needs updating. Waiving protection from garnishment, however, must take an exact form.

  • The language in which the waiver is written must be the language of the related contract.
  • The waiver must be a separate document attached to the initial contract.
  • The waiver must be worded as below and written (as below highlighted in blue) in 14 point type.

IF YOU PROVIDE MORE THAN ONE-HALF OF THE SUPPORT FOR A CHILD OR OTHER DEPENDENT, ALL OR PART OF YOUR INCOME IS EXEMPT FROM GARNISHMENT UNDER FLORIDA LAW. YOU CAN WAIVE THIS PROTECTION ONLY BY SIGNING THIS DOCUMENT. BY SIGNING BELOW, YOU AGREE TO WAIVE THE PROTECTION FROM GARNISHMENT.

  (Consumer’s Signature)     (Date Signed)  

I have fully explained this document to the consumer.

  (Creditor’s Signature)     (Date Signed) 

Even if you have signed this waiver (DON’T DO THAT!), the amount garnished is also limited by federal law under U.S. Code Title 15, Chapter 41, Subchapter II § 1673. So no matter what anyone tells you, it’s not up to the creditor. 

Federal Law Governing 222.11 Exemption of Wages from Garnishment

Subsection 1673 governs how much of a person’s wages may be garnished under 222.11 exemption of wages from garnishment even if you’ve signed a waiver (DON’T DO THAT!). The section was last amended in 1978 – the last century. The House and Senate really need to get on the stick. Then again for half of the senate and house 1978 is not history, but current events. So, the restrictions are as below.

  • 25 percent of ‘his’ disposable earnings per week (Don’t get mad at me, this was written in 1978).
  • An amount where the disposable earnings exceed thirty times the federal minimum wage – whichever is less.
  • These limits do not apply if there is court ordered support for a child or adult person, if the individual is in bankruptcy and under the protection of the automatic stay, or they are paying down state or federal income taxes.
  • Further limits apply when the garnishee is supporting a current spouse, child, or adult dependent where 50 percent of the disposable income is automatically held exempt from garnishment.

It’s a Lot, Isn’t It?

Even with the law broken down into bite sized pieces, it can be a lot to put together. When you’re facing garnishment you need the best legal help you can get, and sometimes that help may include a bankruptcy. The B word scares people when it shouldn’t because when you’re hemmed in on all sides, a personal or business bankruptcy can give you the breathing room you need to re-establish yourself and get on firm financial ground. Bankruptcy stops garnishments, judgements, collections, repossessions, and other actions immediately. 

However, even facing a garnishment, bankruptcy is not for everyone. The solutions to your problems might be a lot easier and less time-intensive than a bankruptcy filing. The debt could even be time-barred and not collectable by law, or you might have already paid the debt and are able to prove it. The debt could have been voided in a bankruptcy and is being resurrected by a bottom-feeding collection company, or other similar scenarios. In all of these cases, the best advice is not to go it alone, but to work with an attorney to clear your name and your credit. 

If You are Facing Garnishment, Let Us Help!

Our firm and lawyers are among the best, and we’ve been helping with compassion for over a decade. We know that there are hundreds of reasons that people get into debt, and that it’s shame that keeps people from getting the help they need until they’re way over their heads. Let us help you before it gets that far!

Since 2009, Van Horn Law Group has been helping Floridians with every problem that being in debt can generate. We want the best possible resolutions for our clients, whether it’s student loans, medical debt, credit card debit, foreclosure, or bankruptcy. Call any of our offices in Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Miami or Orlando and schedule a free initial consultation with one of our experienced attorneys – not a bankruptcy preparer, not a debt consultant, but a licensed attorney. Get the advice you need from a professional you can trust – get in touch today!

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For anyone facing garnishment, you need to know your rights and what is exempt from garnishment, and more than that you need to understand what your creditors can and can't do. This entry is going to break down a very important part of Florida law - the 222.11 exemption of wages from garnishment.
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Chad Van Horn
Van Horn Law Group
Van Horn Law Group
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Chad Van Horn

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