Collecting on a Judgment: I’ve got a judgment, now what do I do?

Advice

Client won her case and obtained a judgment against defendant. Great! She won! But defendant refused to pay the judgment and ignored client’s requests to do so. Client’s attorney realized she was unsure what to do next. Once you have “won” your case and received a judgment, collecting that judgment could be the toughest part.

In the case above, client’s existing counsel called me and we put together a plan to collect the judgment from defendant. But, even having a plan and moving forward can take time. Garnishments (i.e., demands to third-parties to pay to the judgment holder any money they are holding for or owed to the defendant) to bank accounts can’t pay the judgment if defendant doesn’t have any money in the accounts. Some judges are not familiar with charging orders (i.e., orders directing an LLC to pay amounts owed to the defendant to the judgment holder) and some LLCs/defendants ignore charging orders when they receive those orders. And most personal property (i.e., property other than real estate – “real property”) isn’t worth enough to start foreclosure proceedings.

Patience is a virtue for collecting an outstanding judgment. Defendants don’t honor the law and may be willing to act outside the law. They are not necessarily worried about the social stigma associated with the judgment. Though the defendant can avoid payment for a time, patience and hard work will usually get a result if the defendant is earning income somewhere. If you have your judgment, find a good collections lawyer to help you “follow the money.”

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