If you have had debt problems in the past and were sued by the creditor who you owed, chances are they have a judgment against you for the debts. In some states, including Tennessee, a creditor has several means by which to enforce the judgment.
How Can a Creditor Enforce a Judgment?
Garnish Your Wages
First, the creditor can garnish your wages. In Tennessee, the creditor can garnish 25% of your net wages.
Levy Your Bank Account
Second, the creditor can levy your bank account. If you have money in an account, the creditor can have a bank levy issued to your bank and wipe out your bank account funds.
The third and often most misunderstood collection tactic is a judgment lien. The creditor can record the judgment against you in the Register of Deeds in the county where you live and/or own real property (house or land). Tennessee Code Annotated §25-5-101(b) provides that the lien becomes effective once a certified copy of the judgment or decree is registered in the lien book in the register’s office of the county where the land is located.
In my law practice, I routinely discover that most people don’t know about judgment liens and also do not realize that T.C.A. §25-5-101(c) says that this lien attaches to any current property and any after-acquired property. So, the credit card company can put a lien on your house, and it can attach to any currently-owned real property and after-acquired real property.
T.C.A. §25-5-105 provides that a judgment lien is good for ten years from the date of final judgment entry at the court clerk’s office. Judgment liens can haunt you for many years.
How Does This Affect the Average Person?
If you want to sell or refinance your property, any judgment liens would have to be paid out of the proceeds. It is during these processes that the judgment liens are most often discovered.
If you have discovered judgment liens that will prevent a refinance or sale to pay off debt, bankruptcy may be a way in which to remove the liens. If you have been sued for a debt in the past, contact one of our offices today for a free consultation.
Heather Ellis Banks is an Associate Attorney at the Bond & Botes Law Offices in Knoxville, Tennessee. She holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Tennessee Knoxville, and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Memphis, Cecil.C. Humphreys School of Law. She has been helping consumers to navigate through the bankruptcy process since 2005. Read her full bio here.