Garnishment of Federal Wages to Enforce of Marital Property and Attorney Fees Awards

In Howard County, Anne Arundel County, Montgomery County and Baltimore County, Maryland Divorce Lawyers encounter many issues relating to federal employment. How to garnish federal wages to collect a debt owed or payments due on account of child support, alimony and other judgments is one such issue.

Garnishment may be the only tool for collection of debts such as an award under the marital property law or attorney’s fees.

Child support and alimony can also be enforced by using the contempt of court powers. (For information on enforcement using the court’s contempt powers in a different context, interested readers should refer to my prior posting on this subject). However garnishment may be the only tool available for collection for other debts such as an award under the marital property law or for attorney’s fees. This posting will focus on the use of garnishment for this purpose. It should come as no surprise that the enforcement process is more onerous when the employer is the Federal Government.

The writ of garnishment is issued by the clerk of the Circuit Court. It orders the employer to withhold wages subject to state and federal limitations on the amount that can be taken out of someone’s paycheck. Serving this writ on the employer is ordinarily sufficient. However the Federal Government additionally mandates the service of an application for commercial garnishment.

Federal Law requires sufficient information to enable employing agencies to identify the employee/obligor. Federal Agencies may refuse to process the document without a social security number on the writ and application. Return phone number and fax number should be included. Service of the writ and application must be made on the agent designated by the employing agency. This can be found in 5 CFR parts 581 and 582. Service must be made by registered or certified mail return receipt requested. However, some agencies are accepting service by fax.

Members of active duty military are not subject to garnishment using this procedure. However, their pay can be attached using the military involuntary allotment process using form DD 2653.