How to Collect a Judgment in Tennessee


Winning a judgment in court does not always translate to receiving the money. More legal wrangling can follow the awarding. In Tennessee, you have several options to obtain the money the court awarded. Money can come right out of the defendant's paycheck or the sheriff can seize the defendant's property. Educate yourself on the legal process before taking the steps.


  • Obtain legal advice. Retain the legal aid you had when you were awarded the judgment. Check the Resources list for a link to lawyers in Tennessee if you need legal assistance.

  • Seek a garnishment of wages. You can get the money you are owed straight from the defendant's paycheck. In Tennessee, 25 percent of wages can be taken, but the other 75 percent is exempt by law.

  • Retrieve a judgment lien on property. According to Tennessee Code Title 66, Chapter 11, Part 1, 66-11-110, a lien is the transfer of ownership of property of someone else to obtain the payment of a debt. The award does not apply to property in another county until a judgment is filed in that county.

  • Confer with the courts on your next step. After you have obtained a lien on property, the sheriff can seize that property at an auction.Tennessee exempts several types of property from this seizure, including homes and apartments.

  • Execute the order. After all of the property has been established, take the decision to the clerk's office and ask for a writ of execution. This informs the sheriff to seize the property. Tennessee has several laws about what may or may not be sold, so seek legal advice on the classification of the items.

  • Consult the court for closure. After the defendant has paid you in full, including interest, record with the court clerk acknowledging complete payment.


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