When a creditor takes legal action to collect money that is owed and wins, the creditor will get a judgment from the court for the amount of money the court rules is owed by the debtor. This judgment allows the creditor to seize property and monies of the debtor to satisfy the judgment. However, the laws of Florida provide for some specific exemptions to such seizures.
A home that is owned and lived in by the creditor can be exempted from a judgment under Florida's homestead law. This is available to regular and mobile homes on land up to one-half acre in a city or town and up to 160 acres in an unincorporated area. This homestead exemption is not applicable to a judgment creditor who holds a mortgage or lien against the home. Also, a debtor who uses this exemption cannot also use the personal property exemption.
Vehicles are exempted if the equity value is $1,000 or less. The equity value is what the market price of the car is, less any loan balances due on it. This exemption does not apply to a judgment where the vehicle is collateral for the debt in question. The law allows the debtor to apply the $4,000 personal property exemption to a vehicle instead, thus allowing for a car up to $5,000 in equity to be protected from seizure.
A debtor who qualifies as a head of family and is paid $500 or less net per week in wages is protected from having his pay attached or garnished by the judgment creditor. A head of family is someone who provides over one-half of the financial support for a child, spouse or other legal dependent. Wages from a head of family that are in a bank account are fully protected for up to six months.
Items owned by the debtor, excluding real estate and vehicles, are exempted from seizure up to a value of $4,000. This also includes cash on hand or in the bank. The creditor is allowed to specify which property he wants to be so exempted. This exemption is not applicable to property that is collateral for money owed and can't be used if the judgment is for alimony or child support debts.
If the debtor owns property jointly with a spouse, and the judgment in question is only against one of the couple, the non-debtor spouse can get an exemption for such jointly owned property. Such an exemption is applicable to all types of property, including real estate. Such property is not allowed to be forcibly sold for a division of monetary worth.
Kerry Zias has been a strategic business consultant and college instructor of business administration courses since 1990. He has taught courses and performed professional consulting work in the areas of marketing, management, business start-ups, entrepreneurship, real estate, sales psychology and performance, business communications, business law and political/governmental relations. Zias holds a Master of Business Administration in marketing from National University.