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The basics of wage garnishment in Tennessee

If you are facing garnishment, it may seem like an unavoidable prospect, but it is possible to stop the process entirely.


1. Call to schedule an appointment (see us the next day!)

2. Bring your  paperwork (if possible) to the appointment.

3. We file the same day (business hours allowing) and give you paperwork to release the garnishment.

  • Within a couple of days we’ll receive the official order and you’ll get any refunds to which you are entitled.

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We take the time to understand your needs and answer all of your questions. While we want to solve your problem quickly, it’s important that you are comfortable with the process, and understand how it will impact you. These thoughtful conversations enable us to ensure the best possible outcomes.

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To many, the idea of wage garnishment seems counterintuitive, as it involves the taking of money from the paycheck of someone that cannot afford to pay some of their bills in order to pay a specific bill. Despite this fact, creditors routinely use this legal process when faced with delinquent debts. Because this is the case, everyone should have a basic understanding of the garnishment process and what can be done about it.

The garnishment process in Tennessee

In Tennessee, like all other states, garnishment is not something that can instantaneously happen in most cases. In order to take a portion of your wages, your creditor needs an order from the court. To obtain this order, the creditor must first sue you for the debt, win the lawsuit and obtain a judgment. Having prevailed in the lawsuit, your creditor may then ask the court to allow your wages to be garnished.

Although a judgment is necessary in most cases to garnish wages, there are a few exceptions. If you owe debts such as taxes, child support or student loans, you may face garnishment without being sued by your creditors.

Since taking 100 percent of your wages would render you unable to pay for the necessities of your life, Tennessee law limits the amount that your creditors may take from your paycheck. Under the law, the maximum amount that may be taken from your paycheck is the larger of:

• 25 percent of your disposable earnings for each week. This is the amount left over after your employer has withheld taxes and other deductions required by law.

• The amount that your paycheck each week exceeds 30 times the federal minimum wage.

In cases where more than one creditor is seeking to garnish your wages, the law limits the maximum amount that may be taken from your wages to 25 percent of your disposable weekly earnings. This is true regardless of the number of creditors seeking garnishment. Additionally, for each dependent child you support, you may keep an additional $2.50 per week.

How you can stop garnishment

Although the garnishment process can be avoided in some cases by negotiating with the creditor to work out a repayment plan, this is not always an effective strategy, as creditors are not legally required to work with you. If you cannot come to an agreement with your creditors, bankruptcy is often the best way stop the garnishment process.

Once you file bankruptcy, the automatic stay immediately stops your creditors from garnishing your wages. During the process, most of the debts that are the subject of the garnishment order are wiped away, giving you a new financial start. After bankruptcy has been completed, your creditors are forever prohibited from attempting to collect any debts that were eliminated during the process.

If you are facing collection attempts for debts that you cannot afford to repay, it is important to act quickly before the situation worsens. The Law Offices of Philip F. Counce is experienced in helping clients in such circumstances and can assess your financial situation and recommend the best way for you to get your affairs back on track.