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Objective information on small claims judgement collection

General Methods for Collecting Your Judgment


There are several options available to claimants once the judgment has been awarded. They can be expensive and are not always successful. All of these methods are considered to be your “cost of doing business” and courts will rarely award post-judgment fees to help you out. While there may be others in a given state, these are the most common: wage garnishment, bank garnishment, rent garnishment, levy on personal property, and interrogatories.

  • Wage garnishment: This is one of the most common but it can be difficult to collect usable information. Many times employment records are outdated. Additionally, these garnishments may be unsuccessful if the debtor is self-employed or an independent contractor.
  • Bank garnishment: It is also possible to garnish a checking or savings account. This can be effective because it ties up all of the funds in the accounts until the debt is satisfied, thereby making it very attractive to the debtor to agree to payments or to pay the entire amount. Here, however, accounts can be immune if the debtor shows that the money is from Social Security, disability, or veteran’s benefits.
  • Rent garnishment: This method of collecting money requires the owner of the property to relinquish all rents that he receives from the property. Because there are notices regarding this that are available to the renter, it can prove embarrassing to the owner and in turn make him willing to pay. On the other hand, if the renter is behind in the rent, or does not pay any or all the rent, it may be impossible to collect.
  • Levy on personal property: This method is not very cost effective and not used very often. There is the time involved for sales, the bond costs, and the overall cost of the sale. Furthermore, most property sold will not be worth enough to cover the judgment. Most vehicles have liens, as do residences; and in addition, in most instances a personal home and car allowing the person to have shelter or get to work, cannot be attached. The hope here is that the threat of levy will force the debtor to pay to avoid the sheriff tagging the property for sale.
  • Interrogatories: This method is one which requires the debtor to come to court and answer questions about his assets and ability to pay. It is a good method to find out information, and those not showing up can be jailed. However, though the person must appear and answer the interrogatories, the method does not require the debtor to actually pay the judgment.

All of these procedures can be time consuming and costly. In order to collect the money you have been awarded, however, any one or more of them may be necessary. Consider that there may be other less intimidating methods of collecting the judgment. Keep in mind that the way you approach the dispute could have a bearing on the judgment satisfaction.

More articles and resources about judgment collection & enforcement, judgment law, and how to collect a legal judgement

We are available at any time to answer your questions regarding your possible claim, proceeding to court or mediation, judgement collection, judgment enforcement, and ways to collect your judgment. Contact us if you have questions or would like a recommendation for professional help in collecting your judgement.

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collecting your judgment

General Methods for Collecting Your Judgment

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Tip of the Week

September 27, 2010

If you have been awarded a judgment, waited the 30 days required, sent a demand letter giving the debtor a time limit for paying his/her debt; what should you do if you still have no money? You know that the court can do little, but before you take steps to garnish wages or bank accounts, consider suggesting negotiation or mediation if the debtor gives any impression that they want to settle the matter.

More tips...

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