A garnishment is an order of a court to a garnishee (the employer) to withhold a sum of money from an employee's earnings for payment of a debt. The state of Maryland draws a distinction between garnishments for support obligations and those for other kinds of debts (See MD Court Rules 2-645 et seq. and 3-645et seq., MD Family Law Code Sec. 10-120 et seq., MD Commercial Code Sec. 15-601et seq. and MD Code Sec. 8-626.1).
There are numerous state and federal laws pertaining to garnishment. Where state laws are more restrictive than federal law (i.e., by protecting a greater amount of salary from garnishment), then state laws will govern.
Garnishment vs. wage assignment. Garnishment and assignment of wages are both methods of deducting money from an employee's earnings to repay his or her debts. Garnishment is an involuntary procedure that is usually conducted when the employee has not paid debts voluntarily. Assignment of wages is a voluntary proceeding in which the employee agrees to the deduction. There is more information on assignment of wages.