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Unique Benefits for Married Couples in Wage Garnishment and Bankruptcy Cases

Married Jacksonville residents seeking to defend wage garnishments may have a unique opportunity over unmarried debtors. Section 222.11 of the Florida Statutes allows any Head of family to exempt all of their disposable earnings from garnishment. Section 222.11(1)(c) defines “Head of family” as any natural person who provides more than one half of the support of a dependent.

Based on this definition, it would make sense that a husband and wife could both exempt their wages from garnishment as long as they were each providing more than 50% of the support for a child from a prior relationship.

Similarly, in a bankruptcy case, having a non-filing spouse can protect all titled marital property from liquidation by filing that property as, “Tenancy by the Entireties”. This trick is commonly used in the bankruptcy arena.

Usually, we bankrupt married couples in a single document called a, “Joint Petition”, which only requires a single filing fee. However, joint petitions don’t allow for the “Tenancy by the Entireties” defense, so personal property above state exemption amounts would be lost. A unique possibility for married couples would be to file one spouse, claim the entireties exemption and then file the second spouse claiming the entireties exemption after the first case is closed.

Whether bankrupt or defending garnishments there are unique strategies that we can help you with. Come see a Jacksonville Bankruptcy Attorney and we’ll explore how those strategies can work best for you.

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