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    See Tennessee Judgment Enforcement Law below.
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Judgments and Enforcement: 
A judgment entered in a court of the State of Tennessee generally is enforceable for a period of ten (10) years. (28-3-110.) A judgment for an amount over $500.00 may become a lien on the real property of a judgment debtor located at the county in which a certified copy of the judgment is registered. (25-5-101.) A judgment of the Court of General Sessions that is for $500.00 or less may not become a lien on the judgment’s debtor’s real property except when execution is levied. (16-15-804.)


All judgments of any judicial tribunal for money are enforced by execution. (26-1-103.) If a writ of execution is not issued within a year and a day, the judgment may become dormant but may be revived by motion. However, if the judgment has been dormant for ten years, it may be barred because of the applicable statutes of limitations. (25-4-101, 28-3-110.) Executions may first be levied upon the goods and chattels of the judgment debtor, and then be executed upon the lands and tenements if no goods and chattels are available. (26-3-101.)

The wages of a judgment debtor may be garnished to satisfy a judgment. However, the maximum part of the aggregate disposable earnings of an individual for any workweek which is subjected to garnishment may not exceed twenty-five percent (25%) of his disposable earnings for that week; or the amount by which his disposable earnings for that week exceed thirty (30) times the federal minimum hourly wage at the time the earnings for any pay period become due and payable, whichever is less. (26-2-106(a).) If the judgment debtor has dependent children under the age of 16 who are residence of the State of Tennessee, the judgment debtor may further be allowed the sum of $2.50 per child as exemption from such garnishment. (26-2-107(a).)

The State of Tennessee generally does not permit the submission of a judgment of confession by a power of attorney before an action is instituted and before service of process. (25-2-101.)

Foreign Judgment:

The State of Tennessee generally adopts the Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act. (26-6-101, et seq.) Any judgment, decree or order of a court of the United States or of any other court is entitled to full faith and credit in the State of Tennessee. (26-6-103.)

A judgment creditor seeking to enforce a foreign judgment may file with the appropriate court, an authenticated copy of the foreign judgment and an affidavit showing the name and last known post office address of the judgment debtor and the judgment creditor. Promptly upon the filing of the foreign judgment and affidavit, the clerk of the court shall issue a summons to be delivered for service to any person authorized to serve process. This person shall serve the summons and the return endorsed thereon shall be proof of the time and manner of service. (26-6-105.) A judgment so filed has the same effect and is subject to the same procedures, defenses, and proceedings for reopening, vacating, or staying as a judgment of a district court in the State of Tennessee and may be enforced or satisfied in like manner. (26-6-104.)

No execution or other process for enforcement of a foreign judgment may be issued until 30 days after the date a summons is served on the judgment debtor. (26-6-105(c).)


Legal rate: The legal rate of interest in the State of Tennessee is 10% per annum. (47-14-103(3).)

The legal rate of interest in the State of Tennessee is 10% per annum. (47-14-103(3).)

Written Contract rate: The maximum interest rate permitted on written contract is the applicable “formula rate”. (47-14-103(2).) “Formula Rate” is defined under Section 47-14-102(6) of the Tennessee Code as “an annual rate of interest four (4) percentage points above the average prime loan rate (or the average short-term business loan rate, however denominated) for the most recent week for which such an average rate has been published by the board of governors of the Federal Reserve System, or twenty-four percent (24%) per annum, whichever is less.

Judgment rate: The interest rate on a judgment is 10% per annum or the rate set forth in the contract agreed to between the parties so long as it is within the rate permitted under section 47-14-103(2) of the Tennessee Code. (47-14-121.)


In general, a debtor may claim exemption of his homestead and certain personal property from attachment and execution of a judgment, or in a bankruptcy proceeding.

A judgment debtor generally is entitled to a homestead exemption upon real property from execution, attachment, or sale under legal proceedings during his life, to the extent of of $5,000.00 in aggregate value, or $7,500.00 for joint owners, so long as the real property is occupied by the judgment debtor or both joint owners as their residence. If only one joint owner occupied the premises as his residence, the homestead exemption may not exceed $5,000.00. Upon the death of an individual who is head of a family, any such exemption shall inure to the benefit of the surviving spouse and their minor children for as long as the spouse or the minor children use such property as a principal place of residence. (26-2-301(a).)

Personal property which may be exempt from execution, seizure or attachment may include any items of his owned and possessed personal property, including money and funds on deposit with a bank or other financial institution, up to the aggregate value of four thousand dollars ($4,000). (26-2-102.) A judgment debtor is entitled to an absolute exemption of all necessary and proper wearing apparel for the actual use of himself and family and the trunks or receptacles necessary to contain same, all family portraits and pictures, and the family Bible and school books. (26-2-103(a).) Other exemptions to which a judgment debtor may be entitled may include state pension funds, retirement funds qualified under §§ 401(a), 403(a), 403(b), and 408 of the federal Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, (26-2-104), accident, health, or disability insurance insuring the assured against loss by reason of accidental personal injuries, or insuring the assured against loss by reason of physical disability resulting from disease (26-2-110), social security benefits, veteran’s benefits, disability, illness, or unemployment benefit (26-2-111).

For the purpose of a bankruptcy, the citizens of Tennessee are not authorized to claim as exempt the property described in the Bankruptcy Reform Act of 1978, 11 USC 522 (d) pursuant to section 522 (b) (1), Public Law 95-598 known as the Bankruptcy Reform Act of 1978, Title 11 USC, section 522 (b) (1). (26-2-112.)

Statutes of Limitation:

Civil actions generally can be commenced only within certain time limitations. The time generally runs from the date a cause of action accrues or from the date injury or damages are discovered or should have been discovered. When there are mutual accounts between persons who are not merchants, the time is computed from the true date of the last item, unless the account is liquidated and a balance struck. (28-3-112.)

When a cause of action accrues is a critical issue and may be different on a case by case basis. A creditor should always consult actual legal counsel to determine its right to action under the applicable statutes. Some of the time limitations relevant to credit and collection matters are as follows:

Demand notes 10 years 28-3-109(c)

Contract for Sale 4 year 47-2-725(1)

Gambling loss brought by loser.

Ninety (90) days next after such payment or delivery. 28-3-106(1)

Gambling loss brought for the use of the wife, child or children, or next of kin

Within twelve (12) months from the expiration of the ninety (90) days. 28-3-106(2)

Gambling loss brought by a creditor of the loser.

Within twenty-four (24) months from the end of the ninety (90) days. 28-3-106(3)

Injury to personal property 3 years


Claim for usury 2 years 28-3-107

Actions on contracts not otherwise expressly provided for. 6 years


All other cases not expressly provided for. 10 years