No one enjoys being in debt. Having creditors frequently hound and harass you is not desirable. In some instances you may be facing creditors seeking wage garnishment from you. There are national laws that limit how much a creditor can take from your wages; however, each individual state also has laws concerning wage garnishments. Here we will discuss what you need to know about wage garnishment in Tennessee.

What Is Wage Garnishment?

Wage garnishment is when a creditor takes a percentage of your paycheck in order to pay off your debt. In Tennessee most creditors cannot garnish your wages until they have obtained a court judgment. When a court order is granted to a creditor, your employer is required by law to withhold a certain amount of your paycheck and send that money to your creditor.

Wage Garnishment in Tennessee

As previously stated, a creditor cannot get a wage garnishment order until they have sued you for the debt you owe and have obtained a court judgment. Even if a court judgment is obtained, there are different rules for different types of debt. However, once a creditor has a wage garnishment order they are then allowed by law to enforce it. There are circumstances when a creditor does NOT need a court judgment to garnish your wages; for example, if you are not paying child support, are behind on your income taxes, or have defaulted on a student loan that is backed by the government. Although you would have notice of the garnishment for these types of debt, no judgment or suit is required.

How Much?

Both Tennessee and national law limit how much creditors can take from you. Lawmakers wish for you to still be able to have enough income for your various living expenses. Tennessee law coincides with national law, but there are allowances for you to protect more of your income if you have to support children under the age of 18. Each case will vary, but here are the guidelines that indicate the most a creditor can take from you:

  • 25% of your disposable weekly earnings, or
  • the amount your weekly disposable earnings exceed 30 times the federal minimum wage.

If you have any child dependents for which you are responsible you are allowed to keep an additional $2.50 each week for each dependent child in your care. If you have two or more children under 16 in Tennessee then you can protect an additional $5.00 of your weekly wages.

What Are Disposable Earnings?

Disposable earnings are the wages that you are afforded after your employer has made the required deductions by law. This may not include deductions for health insurance premiums or retirement plans.

There are many factors that can affect your individual case; we highly recommend consulting a Tennessee bankruptcy attorney to help you understand how wage garnishment will affect your life and how you can come out on top. A Chapter 13 and Chapter 7 will stop wage garnishment immediately upon filing. In almost all situations, if the Creditor takes money after the bankruptcy filing, you will be entitled to a refund. April Randle has vast experience in handling wage garnishment cases in Chattanooga, TN. Call her today!