I recently had a non-resident client whose salary was garnished by a Florida court because his employer had an office in Florida and he had a judgment entered against him in Florida. We timely challenged the garnishment by filing a head of household claim of exemption. However, at the hearing on same, opposing counsel argued that the Florida head of household exemption does not apply to non-residents. The court disagreed reasoning that if a creditor can use Florida's garnishment statute against a non-resident, then a non-resident should be able to use the exemption set forth in the same statute as a defense and dissolved the writ of garnishment.
I recently had a potential client contact me concerning the consequences of a garnishee's failure to answer a writ of garnishment. Florida law provides that a judgment creditor may serve an employer to garnish a debtor's wages as well as any other entity that may be holding funds of the debtor, such as a bank. Once served with the writ of garnishment, the employer, bank or other entity becomes the "garnishee." The garnishee then has 20 days to serve its answer to the garnishment stating the funds, if any, that the garnishee has belonging to the debtor.
An effective post-judgment garnishment tool for a judgment creditor is garnishment of a judgment debtor's bank account. However, what happens when the judgment debtor resides in another state but uses a national bank with a branch in Florida. Does the bank account fall within the Florida court's jurisdiction to be subject to the writ of garnishment?