If someone has breached the terms of a written contract, then you can take them to court and get a judgment for the amount of money you can prove they owe you. This is usually done in General Sessions Court upon the filing of a Civil Warrant and Affidavit of Account describing the type of contract entered into between the parties and the amount of money owed by the Defendant. If your case involves an amount above $25,000 then your case will have to be filed in Circuit Court instead of General Sessions.
It is important to remember that you will not be successful in collecting a debt without the agreement being reduced to writing, so if you want to sue some friend you loaned some money to without a written promissory note or contract, you will not be successful and the loan could be characterized as a gift in court. If you do have a written contract then, it can be relatively easy to get a judgment for what you want, but it is much more difficult to actually collect the money. So long as the person is personally served with notice of the lawsuit, you can likely get a judgment in court. Once that happens the Defendant will have ten days to appeal the judgment to Circuit Court where it will be heard fresh without any regard as to what happened in General Sessions Court.
Collection methods can include a wage garnishment to the Defendant’s employer where you can collect up to 25% of the person’s check. Absent a voluntary payment from the Defendant, this is usually the best method for collecting debts. Other options include placing a judgment lien on the Defendant’s real property or filing for a writ of attachment that allows you to seize other property of the Defendant, such as a vehicle, and sell it to collect the money you are owed. However, if the Defendant files bankruptcy then all collection efforts must cease and the only way to collect your debt will be to file a proof of claim as a creditor in bankruptcy court.