Portion of Maryland Wage Garnishment Law Struck Down by Court

In March of 2014, a Maryland Appellate Court ruled that one part of the Maryland wage garnishment law was invalid insofar as it conflicted with federal wage garnishment law.

In March of 2014, a Maryland Appellate Court ruled that one part of the Maryland wage garnishment law was invalid insofar as it conflicted with federal wage garnishment law.

The Maryland Wage Garnishment Law

Maryland’s wage garnishment limits vary by county.

Queen Anne’s, Kent, Worcester, and Caroline Counties. The law mirrors federal law. Your creditors can garnish the lesser of:

  • 25% of your disposable earnings for that week, or
  • the amount by which your disposable earnings for the week exceed 30 times the federal minimum hourly wage.

Other Counties. If you live in a county other than Queen Anne's, Kent, Worcester, or Caroline, the Maryland code states that your creditors can garnish the lesser of:

  • 25% of your disposable earnings for that week, or
  • the amount by which your disposable earnings for the week exceed $145. Md. Code Ann., Com. Law § 15-601.1

Safeway v Marshall: Maryland Law Cannot Conflict With Federal Law

In Marshall v Safeway, 437 Md. 542, 548, 88 A.3d 735, 738 (2014), the court pointed out that in some circumstances the amount by which a debtor’s disposable earnings exceed $145 could be greater than the amount by which a debtor’s disposable earnings exceed 30 times the minimum wage. In those circumstances, the Maryland law is invalid because states cannot allow garnishments that would be greater than those allowed by federal law.

What does this mean for you? If a judgment creditor tries to garnish an amount that is greater than that allowed by using the federal formula, you may challenge the amount. For details on wage garnishment and the Maryland wage garnishment law in particular, see Maryland Wage Garnishment Laws.