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You Have a Judgment – Now What?

February 8, 2024

You have finally completed litigation, prevailed in your case, and received a money judgment against your adversary. Now what? A judgment by a court for a specific amount of money entitles you to the amount stated, but it does not actually provide you with funds. Instead, it is incumbent upon you and your attorney to enforce the judgment. 

Steps to Enforcing a Judgment 

First, your attorney will typically contact the defendant’s attorney to request payment. Since the litigation is over, the defendant is now referred to as the judgment debtor (i.e., the individual or company that the judgment is against) and you are the judgment creditor (the person collecting the judgment). 

If it is unlikely that you will receive payment or if the judgment debtor does not have an attorney to contact, the next step is to determine whether the judgment debtor has enough assets to pay the judgment. 

Determining the Judgment Debtor’s Assets

To determine the assets of a judgment debtor, you can serve information subpoenas on the judgment debtor for documents and testimony. The subpoena requires the judgment debtor to answer questions and provide documentation regarding their assets and income. 

Information subpoenas can also be sent to financial institutions. You provide the institution with as much information as you can and the financial institution will conduct a search to determine whether or not they hold any accounts in the name of the judgment debtor. 

Collecting the Judgment

Once you have determined the assets of the debtor, you will need to devise a plan to collect the assets to pay the judgment. Typically, you must initiate one or more of these proceedings: 

  • Writ of execution. You can obtain a writ of execution and serve it on the financial institution where cash is held in the name of the debtor to obtain those funds to satisfy the judgment. 
  • Wage garnishment. If the judgment debtor is employed, you can garnish (take a portion of) the wages of the debtor. 
  • Turnover proceeding. In this proceeding, you request a court to order a debtor’s interest in a company turned over to you to fulfill the judgment. 
  • Lien. You can file liens on real property owned by the debtor. 

Importantly, every state has its own rules and procedures for enforcing judgments. Accordingly, it is best to consult a lawyer. There are many intricacies to judgment collection that can be explained and aided by the advice of an attorney.

If you are attempting to collect on a judgment or fighting a collection action, contact us for a consultation to learn how we can help.


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