When it comes to stopping wage garnishment, your rights and options under the wage garnishment laws in Maryland are very limited if an order for garnishment has already been entered and the garnishment begun. The best time to stop your wages from being garnished is before the garnishment begins.
Unfortunately, most people don’t contact a Maryland bankruptcy attorney until after a creditor begins taking their wages and they no longer have enough income to pay their bills or maintain their lifestyle. Under these circumstances, there are two ways to stop the wage garnishment. Your rights in both options are best protected with the help of an experienced bankruptcy attorney.
Protecting Your Wage Garnishment Rights When Garnishment Has Already Begun
Option 1: File for an Exemption
The wage garnishment laws in Maryland allow an individual to file for an injunction for exemption relief under certain circumstances. The Consumer Credit Protection Act limits garnishment to twenty-five percent (25%) of your disposable income, with some exceptions.
Sometimes it can also be shown that the garnishment amount was calculated incorrectly or that the garnishment order was rendered incorrectly. For example, if another garnishment, such as garnishment for child support, was not considered in the original calculation, it may be possible to convince the court to recalculate and change the order. If the creditor failed to notify you correctly or otherwise failed to follow proper procedure, you can also challenge the garnishment order on these grounds.
If you and your Maryland bankruptcy attorney are successful in filing for an exemption, the judge may either reduce the garnishment amount or set aside (cancel) the garnishment order altogether.
Option 2: File for Bankruptcy
Since the wage garnishment laws in Maryland are so strict about the grounds on which an exemption can be granted, the only option for many people is to file for bankruptcy. Once you’ve filed for bankruptcy, creditors must immediately stop all wage garnishments. Your rights under state and federal bankruptcy laws dictate that creditors must stop all collection efforts, including garnishment of wages, and must wait until the bankruptcy process has run its course and a decision is rendered by the bankruptcy court.
Filing for bankruptcy is not to be taken lightly, but it can give you the room you need to get your finances in order or eliminate most unsecured debt and give you a clean start. Your Maryland bankruptcy attorney can explain your bankruptcy options and advise you on the kind of bankruptcy (i.e., Chapter 7, Chapter 13, or Chapter 11) you should file for.
Schedule a Bankruptcy Consultation!
In Maryland, bankruptcy attorney John Burns and his firm can help you determine whether your creditors properly followed wage garnishment laws in Maryland and whether you have any recourse against a garnishment of wages. Call our office at 301-441-8780 to schedule a consultation regarding your wage garnishment rights.
John Douglas Burns is an attorney and Managing Member of The Burns Law Firm, LLC in Greenbelt, Maryland. Mr. Burns' practice emphasizes Chapter 11 business reorganizations and representation of consumer debtors under Chapter 7, 13 and 11. He also works with clients who are interested in addressing their financial issues without the use of bankruptcy protection