Creditors that have a judgment against a Maryland debtor can opt to pursue a portion of the debtor's wages or the money in his bank accounts through garnishment. Such actions may result for debts stemming from consumer transactions, student loan default or unpaid child support. However, the amount that the creditor can take depends on the amount and type of income the debtor has, as well as the county in Maryland where the judgment was issued.
Wage Garnishment Procedure
Most wage garnishments in Maryland require a final judgment to be entered against a debtor. The form that the creditor files in Maryland is called a Request for Garnishment on Wages, which it can receive from the court clerk where the judgment was issued. The creditor fills it out with information about the debtor's employer and the judgment. Then, the employer is served with the order. The employer responds by providing information about the employee's wages and whether he is still employed. The employer then distributes the non-exempt portion of the employee's wages to the creditor.
Bank Account Garnishment Procedure
To garnish a bank account in Maryland, the creditor must complete a Request for Garnishment of Property Other than Wages, which can be provided by the court clerk where the judgment was issued. The form must contain accurate information regarding the debtor's bank information, such as name and address. Additionally, it must include the amount of the judgment and any other amounts due to the creditor, such as court costs and post-judgment interest. The court clerk issues the Writ of Garnishment, and the debtor's financial institution is served with it. The bank has 30 days to respond to the writ.
Wage Garnishment Exemptions
The amount of exempt wages depends on the county where the judgment was issued. In Baltimore City and Maryland counties other than Caroline, Kent, Queen Anne's and Worcester, 75 percent of an employee's disposable wages are exempt, or disposable earnings of $145, whichever is greater. For example, if an employee had disposable earnings of $250, 25 percent of this amount would be $62.50. If $145 was exempt from the $250, that would leave a remainder of $105. Therefore, only $62.50 could be garnished, because this results in the greater exemption limit. In Caroline, Kent, Queen Anne's and Worcester counties, the greater of 75 percent of the employee's disposable wages are exempt, or 30 times the federal minimum wage, whichever is greater.
Bank Funds Exemptions
Financial institutions must comply with federal and state laws pertaining to exempted funds. The bank cannot garnish funds that derive from Social Security, Veteran's benefits, Supplemental Security Income, Federal Railroad Retirement benefits or Federal Civil Service and Employee Retirement benefits. Additionally, retirement and escrow accounts cannot be garnished in Maryland.
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