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Miami residents trying to get their financial houses in order may wonder what the effect is when one has a judgment levied against them by the courts. The answer really depends on many factors. Some debtors may have their wages attached or even have some of their possessions seized, while those earning relatively low wages and who have little property may be exempted from wage and asset seizures.

Limits are set on both the state and federal level about what creditors may legally seize in order to prevent making families become destitute. There are no debtor’s prisons in America, although failing to attend a proceeding known as a “debtor’s examination” can result in your being picked up on a warrant by police. Generally speaking, however, law enforcement wastes very little manpower on debtors.

Your home is protected from seizure by state law, which also forbids seizure of used vehicles and household goods that are valued beneath a certain threshold. If you receive government benefits like unemployment compensation, public assistance and Social Security, they are exempt from seizure and your bank should scan your account for those deposits before allowing any garnishments. A better idea is to send your creditor and the district court an affidavit wherein you swear that you do not mix non-exempt funds with exempted funds in the account. Provide copies of your bank statements to back up your affidavit.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act also prohibits harassment, unfair collection tactics and deception for collection efforts that occur after a judgment is handed down. One thing that catches many debtors unaware, however, is that during a debtor’s examination, any cash or jewelry you have on your person can be seized immediately. When you prepare to attend one of those, leave all of your cash at home and take off your jewelry if you intend to keep it.

Discussing financial problems is never enjoyable but sometimes becomes necessary. A Florida bankruptcy attorney can offer advice on your individual situation and help you avoid the hassle of getting a judgment levied against you.

Source: Creditcards.com, “Judgment-proof debtors have an imperfect shield” Fred O. Williams, May. 06, 2014