For What Reason Can Wages Be Garnished in Massachusetts?


In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, a garnishment occurs when a resident fails to live up to his or her tax, loan or child-support obligations. Since the resident is not current with his payments, the owed party may seek a court judgment that directs an employer to withhold money from a worker’s paycheck until his debts are paid. The Massachusetts General Laws (MGL) provide the legal authority and specify the terms of wage garnishment.

Child Support

When a parent fails to support his child, the state of Massachusetts will seek to collect funds for the maintenance of the child. After a court determination of child-support payments, a worker’s paychecks may be garnished up to 60 percent if an employee is not supporting a spouse or another dependent. In the case of an employee supporting another dependent other than the child that requires court-mandated support, a Massachusetts worker’s paycheck may be garnished up to 50 percent.


After a couple has divorced, one party may have to pay spousal support to the other in the form of a monthly check. If this amount remains unpaid, the state will garnish an employee’s paycheck under the authority of MGL Chapters 208, 246 and 209D.


The Massachusetts Department of Revenue may place levies on property or income in order to recover unpaid income taxes under the authority of MGL Chapter 62C, Section 53.


If a Massachusetts resident owes money to an individual or company, this organization may seek a court judgment against the debtor. If an individual defaults on a credit-card debt, the credit-card company may seek to recover on the debtor’s default by obtaining a state-issued garnishment. If a person with a home loan defaults on the mortgage, the issuing bank make try to recover the difference between the amount left on the loan and the price at which the foreclosed home was sold. If a Massachusetts resident does not pay for goods or services, the vendor may obtain a default judgment in order to recover lost monies.

Student Loans

College students may take out loans to pay for college or university. These individuals are responsible for making monthly payments on these loans after graduation. If a graduate stops making payments, MGL Chapter 29 Section 31 provides the authority for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to garnish the wages of an employee in the amount of not more than 10 percent of his disposable income until the debt is paid off.

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