Maine Garnishment laws & HR compliance analysis

Maine Garnishment: What you need to know

A garnishment is an order of a court to an employer (the garnishee) to withhold a sum of money from an employee's earnings for payment of a debt. The state of Maine draws a distinction between garnishments for support obligations and those for other debts.
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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. The laws on garnishments for support garnishments and other types of debts appears at ME Rev. Stat. Tit. 14 Sec. 3126-A and ME Rev. Stat. Tit. 19-A Sec. 2306.
Garnishment vs. assignment of wages. Garnishment and assignment of wages are both methods of deducting money from an employee's salary to repay his or her debts. Assignment of wages is a voluntary procedure in which the employee agrees to the deduction. A garnishment is an involuntary procedure that is usually conducted when the employee has not paid his or her debts voluntarily. There is additional information on this topic.
Debts other than support. The employee may have already been under a court order to make installment payments on the debt without involving the employer. If the employee's salary is garnished, it may be because the employee fell behind on the installment payments. Alternatively, the employee's salary may be garnished outright, without use of the installment payment procedure as a preliminary. The amount of salary that is garnished depends on which procedure is used, as explained below.
In either case, the employer receives an order to withhold which states the amount of the debt, plus interest and costs, or the amount of the installment ...

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