New Tennessee Legislation Imposes Contempt Sanctions on Judgment Debtors Who Don’t Notify Creditors of New Employment

As a creditor rights attorney, I’m always looking for new developments in the law that gives me any advantage.

Recently, I saw that the Tennessee Legislature is considering a new law that gives creditors an unfair advantage.

I’m talking about Public Chapter 187, on wage garnishments, which would create the new Tenn. Code Ann. § 26-2-225. The statute provides, in part, that:

… A judgment debtor whose salaries, wages or other compensation are subject to a garnishment shall notify the judgment creditor who filed the writ of garnishment within ten (10) days, as computed in § 1-3-102, of obtaining any new employment. Notice to the judgment creditor shall be by certified mail and shall include the name, address and telephone number of the new employer. A judgment debtor who fails to provide notice of new employment in compliance with this section is in contempt of court and, upon the court making a determination of contempt, may be punished the same as contempt of court in a judicial proceeding. …

Under this proposed law, any debtor whose wages are being garnished must notify the creditor within 10 days, via certified mail, of any new employment.

As a creditor’s lawyer, sure, I understand why this law would be helpful: when a debtor switches jobs it can take months for me to figure out where they work. But, I’m surprised that  the Legislature would waste this energy to get involved in this collections cat-and-mouse game.

Frankly, even noting my creditor-friendly bias, I think this law goes a little far. An affirmative requirement that  the debtor send written notice, via certified mail, seems so onerous that I predict that a General Sessions Court would hesitate to impose h a contempt charge.

This is just a strange law, all around.

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