Wage Garnishment Laws in Florida
A wage garnishment is an order mandated by the court or government agency that is sent to a debtor’s employer that requires him/her to withhold a certain amount of money from the debtor’s salary. The amount withheld from a paycheck depends on the type of debt, and in the state of Florida there is a set limit.
First, creditors must obtain a court judgment that legally states that a particular individual owes them money. For the most part, wages cannot be garnished until such a lawsuit is filed and a money judgment is granted. Creditors are typically limited to up to 25% of a person’s wages if they meet the minimum threshold requirement. In certain situations, however, the lenders can take more. Our West Palm Beach litigation attorneys are here to provide you with more information regarding the wage garnishment laws in Florida.
There are certain circumstances in which wages can be withheld without a court judgment, such as if debtor has unpaid income taxes, court-ordered child support, or defaulted student loans.
Child Support: Parents responsible for child support payments agree to an automatic withholding order that can be executed by creditors or the other parent if any schedule payments are missed. Up to 50% of someone’s wages can be garnished from his or her paycheck if the payments are not being satisfied on time. For payments over 12 weeks past due, there can be an additional 5% deducted.
Defaulted Student Loans: If any federal student loan has defaulted, the US Department of Education has the legal right to garnish the borrower’s wages without a court judgment of up to 15%, but no more than 30 times the minimum wage.
Unpaid Taxes: Anyone owing back taxes can have wages reduced without a court judgment. The amount garnished depends on the number of dependents the debtor has and his or her deduction rate. Furthermore, states and local governments can garnish wages in order to collect unpaid state and local taxes.
Florida’s Wage Garnishment and Restrictions
Florida’s income garnishment laws limits how much money can be taken from a debtor’s paycheck. Ideally, the amount withheld should still leave the debtor with enough money to fulfill reasonable living expenses. The federal law states that a lender can withhold up to 25% of a debtor’s disposable income or the amount of revenue that exceeds 30 times federal minimum wage, whichever amount is less. Disposable earnings are the amount of money leftover in a paycheck after the employer takes out the legally mandated amount. If someone’s disposable income is less than 30 times the federal minimum wage requirement, payments cannot be garnished at all.
For instance, if Sarah is working part-time at a grocery store in Florida making $220.00 per week, a creditor cannot garnish any of her pay considering she is making less than 30 times minimum wage ($8.46 x 30 = $253.80). However, if she then changed jobs and started working full-time taking home $1,000 per week, her income would now be susceptible to deductions of up to 25%, or $250 per week. Additionally, Florida laws allow employers to impose a charge for complying with wage garnishment mandates, which can also be deducted from an employee’s paycheck.
Head of Family Exemption in Florida
Those who are the head of their household and earn under $750.00 per week can claim the head of family exemption in Florida to avoid garnishment. To do so, a person must provide evidence that reflects payment of more than half to financially support a child or another dependent within their family. This exemption does not automatically become valid; in fact, a person must claim it by first filing for an affidavit when notified of a wage garnishment request.
Even though Florida’s laws limit the number of judgments creditors can take from someone’s wages, there are many steps and proceedings that need to be followed in order to reach that verdict. Our West Palm Beach litigation attorneys provide insight and guidance to our clients to easily navigate the wage garnishment laws and avoid any unnecessary deductions in their paychecks.