Filing for Bankruptcy in Tennessee

Filing for bankruptcy in Tennessee? Start here to get the Tennessee -specific information you'll need.

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If you want to file for bankruptcy in Tennessee, there is information online that can help you.

The general bankruptcy filing process in Tennessee is similar to other states because the most of the bankruptcy process is governed by federal law. However, you will need to include some Tennessee-specific information on your bankruptcy forms.

You’ll also need to know about the Tennessee exemptions because federal exemptions are not available to you in Tennessee.

Here is some information to get you started.

Pre-Bankruptcy Credit Counseling and Pre-Discharge Debtor Education in Tennessee

Before you can file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you must have proof that you received credit counseling from an agency approved by the U.S. Trustee in Tennessee within the six month period before you file for bankruptcy. You’ll also have to take a debtor education course after you file, before you will be granted a discharge. (To learn more about this requirement, including the rare exceptions, see Credit Counseling & Debtor Education Requirements in Bankruptcy.)

  • You can find the list of approved Tennessee credit counseling agencies, separated by district, here.
  • You can find the list of approved Tennessee debtor education agencies, separated by district, here.

Tennessee Bankruptcy Exemptions

Tennessee has a set of bankruptcy exemptions which help determine what property you get to keep in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, and play a role in how much you repay creditors in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. (To learn more, see our Bankruptcy Exemptions area.)

Unlike some other states which allow you to choose between state and federal exemptions, in Tennessee, you can only use state exemptions.

To learn about Tennessee’s exemptions for your home and car, see The Homestead Exemption in Tennessee and The Motor Vehicle Exemption in Tennessee. To find other Tennessee exemptions, visit our Bankruptcy Exemptions area.

Completing the Bankruptcy Forms in Tennessee

Whether you file for bankruptcy under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, you need to fill out a bankruptcy petition, several schedules containing detailed information on what you own and who you owe money to, and several other forms containing detailed information on your finances. You also need to file a lengthy form known as the "means test" to see if you qualify for a Chapter 7 and a similar form for a Chapter 13.

(For a list of the forms you must complete, see The Bankruptcy Forms: Getting Started.)

Getting and Completing the Official Bankruptcy Forms

For more information about each of the official forms, including how to find them and fill them out, see Completing the Bankruptcy Forms.

Finding Means Test Information for Tennessee

When you file for bankruptcy in Tennessee, you must compare your income to the median income for a household of your size in Tennessee. If your income is less than the median, you will be eligible to file for Chapter 7 and, if you choose to file for Chapter 13 instead, you can use a three-year repayment plan (rather than five years).

If your income is above Tennessee’s median income for a household of your size, you still might qualify for Chapter 7, but you will have to provide detailed information on your regular expenses and payments on secured debts by completing something called the means test. Most Chapter 13 filers will also have to provide this information in a similar Chapter 13 form.

For information about each of these forms, including how to complete them, see:

  • Form 22A–Statement of Current Monthly Income and Means Test Calculation (for Chapter 7), and
  • Form 22C –Statement of Current Monthly Income and Calculation of Commitment Period and Disposable Income (for Chapter 13).

Here’s how to find Tennessee-specific figures for these forms:

Tennessee Median Income. For a one-person household in Tennessee, the median income is $37,967. For a family of three, the Tennessee median income is $51,642. You can find median income figures for other household sizes in Tennessee here.

Example. Thomas is married and has no children. He lives with his wife and his elderly mother. Their total household income is $47,000. He is eligible to file for Chapter 7 without completing the detailed means test calculations because his household income is less than $51,642.

Standard deductions. Forms 22A and 22C have a comprehensive list of expense categories, such as housing, transportation, food, and childcare. For some of those categories (like childcare), you provide the actual amount you spend. For other categories, you plug in a predetermined amount -- sometimes that figure is standard for the entire country, other times it varies by county or region.

You can find all of the Tennessee state, county and region-specific figures that you will need to complete Forms 22A and Forms 22C on the U.S. Trustee’s website at www.justice.gov/ust. Click on "Bankruptcy Reform" and then "Means Testing Information."

Example. In Tennessee, the standard amount that you list on your means test for housing varies by county and number in your household. If you live in Fayette County, your mortgage or rent deduction is $888 for a one-person household and $1,225 for a four-person household. If you live in Fentress County, your mortgage or rent deduction is $410 for a one-person household and $566 for a four-person household. You can find housing expense standards for each Tennessee county here.

Getting Local Bankruptcy Forms

Some judicial districts and bankruptcy courts require bankruptcy filers to complete additional "local forms." To find out if your court requires additional forms, contact the bankruptcy clerk’s office. You might even find these forms posted online at your bankruptcy court’s website. (Below you will find links to the bankruptcy courts in Tennessee.)

Filing in the Correct Tennessee Bankruptcy Court

There are three federal judicial districts in Tennessee. You can file in either

  • the district where you have been residing for the greater part of the 180 days before you file, or
  • the district where your are domiciled (which is the place where you maintain your home with the intent to stay) if you have been living elsewhere temporarily (such as on a military deployment or out of the area for temporary work assignment).

How to Find Tennessee's Bankruptcy Courts

You can use the Court Locator tool on the U.S. Courts website to find bankruptcy court locations and websites. The two districts for the Tennessee bankruptcy courts are:

If you are not sure which Tennessee district you are in, you can use the Justice Department’s Judicial District Locator to find out.

by: , Attorney

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