“I tried to pay for my groceries and my debit card was declined; I called my bank, and they said all my money was on a legal hold. I had to leave without any groceries.”
“I just got my paycheck deposited and all my money is gone; I don't have any money to pay my rent.”
“I have a joint bank account with my mother and all her life savings is gone; the bank says a creditor I owed money to took it all.”
These are just a couple of the very real stories that I have had clients tell me over the last decade. These situations can be the unpleasant result of a creditor exercising their collection power over a judgment that they obtained against you.
In order for a creditor to garnish your bank account, they must first sue you and obtain a judgment. A judgment is a court document which finds that you owe money to the creditor. A judgment is a very powerful piece of paper because it also provides the creditor the right to use legal mechanisms to collect the money that is owed to them – one of these mechanisms is a bank garnishment.
Garnishment actions in Florida are established by Chapter 77 of the Florida Statutes. When a bank garnishment is issued, your bank freezes all money in any account titled in your name. You will not receive any notice prior to the bank account being garnished – usually clients find out when they check their bank account and see that all their money has been put on a legal hold.
When a bank garnishment hits, it is presumed that the money in the bank account where your name appears is yours and the bank would have to turnover that money to the creditor to pay down your debt. Florida law provides certain exemptions that would allow you to recover the money, depending on your income, if you have dependents, if the funds are traceable to social security, or if you can prove that the money belongs to a third party. However, there are very strict deadlines in which the request for an exemption must be filed with the court. If you miss the deadline to file the appropriate paperwork or do nothing at all, the bank turns over the garnished money to the creditor and the money is applied towards the debt owed.
Garnishment proceedings are very tricky, and it is very possible that you could lose your claim of exemption because the procedures set out by the Florida statutes were not correctly followed. The best way to protect yourself is to have an experienced attorney to assist you in any garnishment proceeding.
How do you stop a bank garnishment from happening? Be proactive and act before the creditor does! If you already have a judgment entered against you, the time is now to resolve the debt before the creditor takes money from you involuntarily. If you have been sued, resolve the debt now before the creditor is empowered with a judgment. If you need assistance resolving a debt collection lawsuit, a judgment, or garnishment proceedings, contact the professionals at Holland Law Group today at (941) 744-5450. We offer a free consultation and are available to assist Floridians all across the state, whether you live in Miami, Orlando, Tampa, Jacksonville, or anywhere else in between.