When Can Wage Garnishment be Ordered by the Court?
In the area of Family Law, there is a significant amount of exchange of money in the form of alimony, equitable distribution, or child support. Therefore, with there being so many avenues of ordered monetary exchange, there are also many avenues to default on those payments. When an obligated party defaults, the receiving party will want to know their options as to how to obtain the money owed, as well as ensure default does not occur in the future. The most common resolution to this issue is wage garnishment. Speak to your Orlando Family Law Attorney to determine if you are eligible to seek a wage garnishment from your obligated former partner.
Overall, wage garnishment, or an income withholding order is entered by the court and served upon the obligated party’s employer. The employer is then directed to withhold a certain amount of money from the obligated party’s paycheck each pay period to fulfill their family obligations and pay to the receiving former partner. However, Florida Statute does provide limitations to this form of withholding, but the limitations are significantly different for family obligations in comparison to ordinary creditors.
Generally, a court must order the wage garnishment for debts owed by the obligated party, stating the specific amount owed, and the payments missed. However, Florida does not require a court order to garnish wages for the purposes of court ordered support payments. Instead, you may seek a wage garnishment outside of a court order. Further, general creditors are typically limited to 25% of the wages earned by the obligated party, or an amount that would not leave the party with less than 30 times the federal minimum wage. However, for support orders, wages can be garnished up to 50% if the obligated party is also supporting other dependents, or 60% is no other dependents are supported by the obligor. An extra 5% may be garnished if the obligated party has failed to make any payments in 12 weeks.
A common defense to a wage garnishment action is claiming a Head of Household exemption under Florida Statute 222.11. This exemption prohibits the garnishment of wages of an individual who is the head of their household, supporting other dependents, and earns less than $750 a week. However, with family law and support orders, the obligated party will not be able to claim this exemption as the financial obligations to a previous family are equal to the obligations to current family units. Further, the court made up for this lack of exemption to support orders, by still maintaining a limit on the amount of wages that may be garnished by a party who has other support obligations or dependents.
Receiving your entitled child support or alimony can be critical to your financial stability. Therefore, it is important to seek out proper safeguards to ensure on time and correct payments each month through a wage garnishment. Speak with your Orlando Family Law Attorney today to discuss how to implement this option into your current situation.
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