To garnish is to take property, most often a portion of someone's salary, by legal authority. 

Garnishment is a proceeding by a creditor to collect a debt through the property or assets of the debtor.

The person instituting the proceeding is referred to as the creditor or plaintiff, the person indebted to the creditor is the debtor or defendant.

The person holding the property of, or who is indebted to, is the defendant is the garnishee.  Any person can be subject to garnishment.

To collect money owed, the plaintiff must first obtain a final judgment or order against the defendant in court.  For more information on filing a claim see the “How Do I” section of the home page.  A garnishment proceeding determines whether the debtor has any assets that can be used to satisfy a judgment. Once a judgment has been filed the creditor can go about collecting what is owed.

There are 2 types of collection that involve garnishment: 1) garnishment of wages and 2) garnishment of property and assets, such as bank accounts. 

Assets Free From Garnishment

A garnishment can not be made against property held jointly by husband and wife, unless both are judgment debtors or the property was established after the date of entry of judgment.  This is the same for partnerships.  Other assets that are protected from garnishment include most federal benefits. 

Defenses by Garnishee

A garnishee can contest the garnishment and must file the appropriate motion with the Court.

Is this legal advice?

This site offers legal information, not legal advice.  We make every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information and to clearly explain your options.  However we do not provide legal advice - the application of the law to your individual circumstances. For legal advice, you should consult an attorney.  The Maryland State Law Library, a court-related agency of the Maryland Judiciary, sponsors this site.  In the absence of file-specific attribution or copyright, the Maryland State Law Library may hold the copyright to parts of this website. You are free to copy the information for your own use or for other non-commercial purposes with the following language “Source: Maryland's People’s Law Library – © Maryland State Law Library, 2013.”