Massachusetts Garnishment Forms
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Massachusetts Garnishment Forms FAQ
What is garnishment?
Garnishment is a legal proceeding whereby money or property due to a debtor but in the possession of another is applied to the payment of the debt owed to the plaintiff. A court order of garnishment allows a creditor to take the property of a debtor when the debtor does not possess the property. A garnishment action is taken against the debtor as defendant and the property holder as garnishee.
Are there limits to garnishment amounts?
Garnishment is regulated by statutes and a plaintiff can initiate a garnishment action as a means of either prejudgment seizure or post judgment collection. All properties are not subject to garnishment. Exemptions are created by statutes to avoid leaving a debtor with no means of support.
There are different types of garnishments, as defined by state laws, which vary by state. A garnishment may be made on a one-time or continuing basis. Some kinds of income are exempt, which means that they cannot be garnished at all by creditors for consumer debts, including welfare, unemployment, veterans benefits, Social security, workers' compensation, pensions, and child support payments that you receive. For ordinary garnishments (i.e., those not for support, bankruptcy, or any state or federal tax), the weekly amount may not exceed the lesser of two figures: 25 percent of the employee's disposable earnings, or the amount by which an employee's disposable earnings are greater than 30 times the federal minimum wage.
The procedure to obtain a garnishment order is determined by state law. However, federal law determines how the garnishment order is applied to military pay, i.e., how service or process is accomplished, the type of pay subject to garnishment, etc. Less than the full amount ordered may be received by an ex-spouse under an alimony/support garnishment if the payor does not have sufficient disposable earnings to allow the deduction of the full amount. The Consumer Credit Protection Act (15 U.S.C. Section 1673) limits the amount that can be deducted as child support/alimony from earnings. The limit ranges from 50 percent (50%) of disposable earnings to sixty-five percent (65%). The full ordered amount of child support/alimony will be deducted as long as that amount does not exceed the maximum percentage allowable.