Wage Garnishments

A wage garnishment is the procedure in which the debtor’s employer is ordered by the court to send a portion of the debtor’s wages to the Plaintiff in the case in order to pay the debt.

The process goes like this:
  • A Request for Garnishment on Wages is filed with the court in the county where the judgment was entered.
  • The court receives the Request and issues a Writ of Garnishment on Wages.
  • The Writ of Garnishment on Wages is served on the employer.
  • The employer has 30 days after receipt to complete the answer to the garnishment, detailing the employee’s status, wages, and if there are any other attachments on wages in place.

There are limits to how much money is withheld. Federal law states that no more than 25% of the debtor’s disposable income (the amount left after taxes and insurance are deducted) may be garnished. The debtor must also be left with an amount equal to 30 times the Maryland State minimum hourly wage. If the minimum wage is $11.00/hour, the debtor must be left with at least $330.00 per week.

Garnishee's (Employer) Legal Responsibilities

Upon receipt of a writ of garnishment of wages, the employer must:
  • Reply to the writ within 30 days of receipt, indicating on the back of the form whether the debtor is employed, the rate of pay, and any existing garnishments.
  • Determine the amount of “garnishable wages” for each pay period. If there are existing garnishments in place, they are paid in full first.
  • Once any existing garnishments or liens are paid in full or if there are no other garnishments, immediately begin withholding for this garnishment.
  • Report and distribute withheld wages no later than 15 days after the close of the employee’s last pay period in the month.
  • If the debtor is terminated or stops working, notify the court and all parties including the judgment creditor
  • If the debtor is re-employed within 90 days of termination, the garnishment remains in effect and withholdings must resume.
  • Penalties: If the garnishee fails to comply, the garnishee may be cited for contempt of court and assessed attorney’s fees and court costs.