Head of Household: What Does that Mean for Garnishment?
Is a creditor trying to garnish your wages? Then you need to know about the head of household exemption. It provides an exemption from garnishment of earnings payable to a head of household.
Are You a Head of Household?
To be a head of household, you must:
- Provide more than half of the financial support for another person you have a legal or moral obligation to support.
- The supported person can be any age and doesn’t have to live in the debtor’s home. It can be a spouse, child, or parent.
What Does It Mean to Be a Head of Household?
Generally, your wages cannot be garnished if you are a head of household in Florida. There is no monetary limit for the exemption.
Can You Waive the Head of Household Exemption?
It is possible for a debtor to waive a head-of-household exemption in a contract. These waivers need to be in a separate document attached to the debt agreement and must be in at least 14-point font. The waiver must clearly describe the wage garnishment exemption.
Can Both Spouses Be Head of Household?
If a judgment is against both the husband and wife, only one of the spouses can be head of household.
What’s the Procedure for Filing a Claim of Exemption?
Unfortunately, you cannot assert a head-of-household exemption before a wage garnishment is issued. It has to be done after.
After a creditor’s wage garnishment writ is issued, a garnished debtor can assert the exemption. This is done through filing a claim of exemption or a motion to dissolve the wage garnishment.
The creditor will then often file a denial of the claim of exemption. At this point, you’ll have to prove your entitlement to the exemption. In some cases, you and your attorney can work this out before the hearing.
How to Prove Head of Household Exemption
You’ll have to have the right documentation to prove a head of household exemption in Florida. Documents that will help prove your case include tax returns, pay stubs, and W2 statements for all income-earners in the household. You’ll also to have documents that establishes who is paying for what expenses if there is more than one person earning an income in the household.
What if You Own Your Own Business?
Owning your own business makes it harder to qualify for a head of household exemption. Florida state and federal courts have held that moneys paid a debtor from his own business is profit and not earnings from a salaried job, even if the debtor reports the compensation on his federal tax return as W-2 wages and pays employment tax. Courts look at the degree of control the business owner has over the compensation.
Manta Law: We Defend Tampa Bay Residents from Garnishment
Manta Law is a Tampa boutique firm that represents individuals whose wages or bank accounts are being garnished. From our office conveniently located in the Carrollwood neighborhood of Tampa, we serve residents of Tampa, Wesley Chapel, Temple Terrace, Odessa, Oldsmar, Town and Country, Palm Harbor, St. Petersburg, Largo, and Clearwater.