Maryland Child Support Garnishment Limits, Exemptions and Protections
Maryland garnishment law follows the Consumer Credit Protection Act (CCPA) in determining the amount of an employee's earnings that are subject to wage garnishment, as well as the maximum garnishment limits that can be applied to these earnings. The CCPA garnishment limits apply regardless of whether the employee is assigned multiple orders for support. In such cases, the employer will allocate the support orders based on whether their status is current or not. The proceeding information further expands on these basic concepts of Maryland wage garnishment limits.
Garnishment Limits and Exemptions
Maryland has adopted the CCPA's withholding limits. Earnings defined by the CCPA as "disposable earnings" are protected by a maximum withholding limit. To determine "disposable earnings," subtract from your earnings the deductions that are required by law and you are left with your "disposable earnings." Deductions required by law include state and federal income taxes, as well as Social Security.
Under the CCPA, the maximums that can be withheld from an individual's "disposable earnings" are as follows:
- 50% if the employee supports a second family;
- 55% if the employee supports a second family and is over twelve weeks past due on support payments;
- 60% if the employee does not support a second family; or
- 65% if the employee does not support a second family or owes more than twelve weeks past support.
An employer must use the withholding limit allowed by the state in which their employee works. Some states have more restrictive withholding limits than Maryland, so the employer should look into this before withholding.
Allocation and Priority
Even if an employer receives more than one support order for the same employee, they may never withhold more than the CCPA limits. If there are not enough allowable disposable earnings to satisfy all the support orders, the employer should pay the current support first.
If there is more than one support order for current support, and not enough allowable disposable earnings to pay the full amount on both, Maryland uses the percentage allocation method, or the pro rata method, to determine each payment. The allocation method is based on what percentage of the total allowable disposable earnings is taken up by the current support. Thereafter, if there are any allowable disposable earnings left, the employer should deduct for arrearages owed. If the employer receives support orders from other states, and the employee does not have enough allowable disposable earnings to cover all payments, the employer should contact the Maryland State Disbursement Unit.
An order for support takes priority over any other state-issued order. This means that when an employer receives an order for support along with another type of withholding order for the same employee, they should withhold for the support order first. As of October 17, 2005, support orders also take priority over Chapter 13 bankruptcy repayment orders as well.
A support order does not take priority over an IRS levy. When an employer receives a support order in addition to an IRS levy for the same employee, they should withhold for the levy first. However, because the IRS is sensitive to support orders, the employer should contact the IRS and see if it will accommodate the order if there are not enough disposable earnings to make both payments. If the IRS agrees to accommodate the order, the employer should get such an agreement sent to them in writing. The employer should also contact the agency that issued the support order to notify them about the IRS levy.
Protection from Discrimination
It is against the law in Maryland to refuse to hire, terminate, or otherwise discriminate against an employee because of an order of withholding.