No one likes to go to court to force someone who owes you money to pay, but in many instances, you are left with no choice. Although it can be difficult to obtain a judgment, Collection Attorney in New Jersey will tell you that may be easier than actually enforcing the judgment and collecting what is rightfully yours.
A judgment is a final order issued by the court that declares that the defendant you filed suit against is a judgment debtor and you, as the prevailing plaintiff, are the judgment creditor. The court’s role in the matter, however, stops there; it plays no part in enforcing the judgment. You are left to enforce it yourself or seek the assistance of collections lawyers. Upon losing in court, most individuals and business entities will move to satisfy the judgment to avoid additional costs and the other negative consequences of collection. But other debtors, either because of an inability or reluctance to pay, force you to chase after them, which may not be so easy to do.
If a debtor is seeking to avoid collection, there is a high likelihood he or she will be also hiding assets. To uncover the debtor’s assets, a creditor can serve an Information Subpoena on the debtor, which may be done without court involvement. The debtor is required by law to answer the questions fully and honestly. The debtor may be held in contempt of court if he or she does not respond within 21 days. Alternatively, a creditor can ask the court to issue an Order for Discovery that compels the debtor to appear at a deposition to answer questions regarding his or her assets.
If the debtor is solvent, and you have located his or her assets, you may have collection options, such as:
- Wage garnishment: typically limited to 10 percent of the debtor’s wages, you may be able to levy up to 25 percent if the wages exceed 250 percent of the poverty level.
- Garnish the bank account of an individual or business debtor
- If the creditor is a business, with the assistance of the sheriff, you may be able seize the money in the cash register, business equipment, machinery or other assets.
If you received a judgment in another state, you must register that judgment in New Jersey if you are seeking to collect against assets held in this state.
A judgment is valid for a period 10 years from the date the original date the judgement was entered, and it may be renewed for another 10 year period subsequently. It can be a prudent strategic decision to renew a judgment even if it appears the debtor is temporarily insolvent.
One danger that concerns many creditors is bankruptcy; should the debtor file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition, for all practical purposes the creditor’s rights to collect will be extinguished.
Contact a Collection Attorney in New Jersey for Legal Advice
Collecting on a judgment involves specific legal procedures, and initially it may be necessary to analyze the viability of attempting to do so based upon the creditor’s status. For any questions you may have, call Snellings Law LLC, collections lawyers, at (973) 265-6100.