Tennessee Garnishment – Law and Procedure
It is generally the case that a state’s legislative enactments, or statutes, establish the substantive rights and rules of judicial garnishment, but court rules set forth the procedures of garnishment. This is how Tennessee does it. To more fully understand the Tennessee statutory law of garnishment, found here, it’s necessary to consult the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure (TRCP) , and particularly TRCP Rule 69.05:
(1) Garnishee’s Duty Generally. A writ of garnishment served on a garnishee holding property of the judgment debtor requires the garnishee to answer the writ and make an accounting to the court. Property includes a judgment debtor’s realty, personalty, money, wages, corporate stock, choses in action (whether due or not), and court judgments.
(2) Service of Writ of Garnishment. The sheriff shall serve the garnishee with three copies of the writ of garnishment and one copy of the notice to judgment debtor.
(3) Garnishee’s Duty Upon Service. The garnishee by the next business day after service shall ascertain whether the garnishee holds property of the debtor. If so, the garnishee shall mail one copy of the writ of garnishment with the notice to the last known address of the judgment debtor. Where the garnishee is a financial institution, the balance in the judgment debtor’s accounts on the night of the service date is the amount subject to that garnishment writ.
Within ten days of service, the garnishee shall file a written answer with the court accounting for any property of the judgment debtor held by the garnishee.
Within thirty days of service, the garnishee shall file with the court any money or wages (minus statutory exemptions) otherwise payable to the judgment debtor. If the garnishee holds property other than money or wages, a judgment may be entered for that property and a writ of execution may issue against the garnishee.
(4) Failure of Garnishee to Respond. If the garnishee fails to timely answer or pay money into court, a conditional judgment may be entered against the garnishee and an order served requiring the garnishee to show cause why the judgment should not be made final. If the garnishee does not show sufficient cause within ten days of service of the order, the conditional judgment shall be made final and a writ of execution may issue against the garnishee for the entire judgment owed to the judgment creditor, plus costs.
It is also a good idea to check local court rules. A collection of Tennessee’s Local Rules of Practice can be found on TNCourts.gov, here. Also, looking at official Tennessee court forms can offer insight into how things work.
If you want to know how a Tennessee garnishment really works in actual practice, there is no adequate substitute for an experienced Tennessee lawyer.