A few months ago I handled a claim of exemption hearing for a client seeking a head of household exemption for garnishment of his wages. My client resides in another state, but his employer is a Florida corporation and was served with a writ of garnishment in Florida. My client testified at his claim of exemption hearing that he earned a salary and provided more than one-half of the support for his minor children. The creditor's counsel argued that because my client resided out of Florida, he could not use the exemption because it is only applied to Florida residents. The Court rejected his argument and granted my client's exemption. The creditor appealed the ruling to the Fourth District Court of Appeals.
I am happy to report that the Fourth District Court of Appeals agreed with the Court and upheld the exemption. The Court recognized that the creditors' counsel was relying on pre-1993 law which included language that stated that the exemption only applied to persons "residing in the state." However, that language was removed in 1993. This appellate court's decision clarifies that a creditor relying on the Florida garnishment statute must be cognizant of the fact that even a non-resident debtor will be entitled to the head of household exemption if applicable. I believe the same reasoning would apply to the garnishment of a non-resident's bank account in Florida to the extent the bank account holds the debtor's wages. The case is Ulisano v. Ulisano, No. 4D14-2786 (Fla. 4th DCA, January 7, 2015).