Topics on this page
- How much of my earnings can be garnished for failure to pay child support or alimony?
- Can my bank account be garnished?
- What other sources of income can be taken if I don't make child support payments?
How much of my earnings can be garnished for failure to pay child support or alimony?
Maryland garnishment law follows the Federal Consumer Credit Protection Act (CCPA). The CCPA sets federal limits on wage garnishment to repay certain types of debts. To protect a portion of an individual's earnings from being garnished the CCPA limits garnishment to a percentage of an individual's disposable earnings. Disposable earnings are defined as the income left after legally required deductions, such as federal, state, and local taxes, have been subtracted.
Under the CCPA, more of your earnings can be taken for child support or alimony than for ordinary debts. For ordinary debts, the maximum that can be garnished is 25 percent of your disposable earnings. For child support or alimony, the maximum percentage that can be taken depends on whether you are supporting another spouse or child, and whether you are behind on your child support payments.
- If you are not supporting another spouse or child, the garnishment limit is up to 60 percent of your disposable earnings. If you are more than 12 weeks behind on your child support payments when the earnings withholding order is issued, the court can order up to 65 percent of your disposable income to be garnished.
- If you are supporting another spouse or child, the garnishment limit is up to 50 percent of your disposable earnings. If you are more than 12 weeks behind on your child support payments, the court can order up to 55 percent of your disposable income to be garnished.
NOTE: If the parent being garnished is employed in a state other than Maryland, the withholding limits may be different. About two-thirds of the states use the federal limits, and about one-third cap the withholding at 50 percent regardless of second families or arrearage amount.
In Maryland, your employer is allowed to deduct an additional $2 for each deduction the employer is required to make under an earnings withholding order or earnings withholding notice.
Read the Law: Md. Code, Family Law § 10-128(a)(2)(iii)
Can my bank account be garnished?
In Maryland, a bank account can be garnished to collect unpaid child support payments. Garnishment of a bank account begins with the court issuing a Writ of Garnishment. This writ is a legal order that directs a bank to freeze the parent's account who owes child support.
Once the bank is served with the Writ, it is legally obligated to comply by freezing your bank account. This means that you will not be able to access money in the account (unless the amount in the account exceeds the amount of the garnishment). Once the account is frozen, the funds in the account are subject to garnishment to cover the unpaid child support. The garnished funds are transferred to the Child Support Administration (CSA), which disburses the funds to the child's custodial parent or legal guardian.
In the context of bank garnishment for child support, the parent who owes child support is considered an "obligor,” not a “debtor.” An "obligor" is an individual who has a legal obligation to make payments for child support. This legal duty arises from a court order or an agreement based on the individual's responsibility to support their child financially. A "debtor" is someone who owes money to another party, such as a creditor or lender.
Traditional debtors may have access to certain exemptions and protections that limit the amount of their income that can be garnished. Exemptions and protections available to traditional debtors are not available to obligors.
Learn more about bank garnishment.
What other sources of income can be taken if I don’t make child support payments?
If you fail to make child support or alimony payments, Maryland law allows the person you owe to ask the court to issue an earnings withholding order to recover the unpaid payments. An earnings support order can authorize that the payments you owe be taken out of your paycheck, employment commissions, some pensions, unemployment benefits, Social Security, or workers' compensation payments.
Read the Law: Md. Code, Family Law §10-101
Divorce Series: Asking for Spousal Support or Alimony from the Maryland Courts