When you're deep in debt, it can feel like an impossible situation. You may have fallen behind on credit card bills, medical bills or other debts, but you're working and trying to save up the money to pay off your unpaid balance. And then, you see that one of your creditors is not going to wait. It has already started taking a chunk out of your take-home pay through wage garnishment.
Like many other states, Tennessee allows creditors to garnish the wages of workers who owe them money. All the creditor has to do is file a complaint against the person in court. The debtor must be notified of the lawsuit, but if they don't show up for a hearing, a judge can generally grant the creditor's request.
Exactly how much of your paycheck can be garnished depends upon the type of creditor and how much you make. Most creditors can take about 25% of most people's paychecks. For debts to the government, the process of garnishing your wages can be much harder for a debtor to escape.
It's important to note that debtors have several opportunities to fight wage garnishment. They can show up at the initial hearing, and/or at an appeal. Debtors may also have the opportunity to request a payment plan instead of wage garnishment. A lawyer with experience in debt relief can help people with these actions.
The fastest and most effective way to stop wage garnishment is through filing for personal bankruptcy. Filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy will put an immediate stop to creditor harassment, wage garnishment and other actions. However, the eligibility requirements for Chapter 7 are strict. It is important to seek out help from a debt relief attorney to understand how personal bankruptcy works and how it can help.