The New Jersey collection lawyers at Snellings Law LLC often encounter people who do not know how they can collect on a judgment they’ve obtained against another person or company. There are several things you can do in order to legally enforce a judgment you have obtained. Often, people who have had judgments obtained against them will try to avoid payment of them. While in some cases a defendant may go ahead and either pay the judgment in full or make payments to you over time to take care of it, that is unfortunately rare. Here is what you should do when you have been awarded a judgment against another person.
Know What to Refer to Each Party
When you sue, you are called the plaintiff while the person or business being sued is called the defendant. After you have obtained a judgment against them, however, you are now called the judgment creditor while the other person is called the judgment debtor.
As soon as the judge enters the judgment against the person who sues you, it’s best for you to attempt to talk to the defendant. Try to see if they will pay you on their own in full or if they will agree to make payments to you according to a payment schedule. If they do not pay, here are some things that New Jersey collection lawyers may help you do or that you can try to do through the court in order to get your money.
1. Writ of Execution
The law in New Jersey allows judgment creditors to execute their judgments by placing a levy on the judgment debtors’ assets or property in order to secure the money that is owed for the judgment. Either you or your NJ collection attorneys can request a writ of execution for the judgment debtor’s bank accounts, automobiles, and personal property, which will allow you to get to those assets. Some property cannot be seized and sold to pay your judgment, however. You cannot seize the person’s home and sell it, take their entitlement program payments or seize child support that is paid to them. Once you have successfully applied for and received a writ of execution, the Special Civil Part court officer will then try to collect it for you. For their efforts, you will be assessed a 10 percent fee for any amount they collect, which will be taken out of it. If you reach a settlement with the judgment debtor after you have secured a writ of execution, the court will still require that they receive the 10 percent fee. In order to secure a writ of execution, your NJ collection attorneys will first have to locate the judgment debtor’s property that can be levied. To do this, they may file an information subpoena, which is a set of written interrogatories which the judgment debtor will be required to answer no later than 14 days after receiving them. The questions will be about their assets, bank accounts, and sources of income. If they don’t answer the questions, they may then be held to be in contempt of court, for which they could face a jail sentence or have to pay a fine. Your New Jersey collection lawyers may then file a Motion to Enforce Litigant’s Rights in order to secure a court order for the judgment debtor or any other person with knowledge to answer questions regarding their assets at a certain time and on a specific date.
2. After You Locate the Personal Property
If your NJ collection attorneys found that the judgment debtor has more than $1,000 worth of personal property, including cars, jewelry, or office equipment, they may then request that the court seize it and sell it to pay the owed judgment to you. Since judgment debtors are allowed to exclude $1,000 of property they own, this will only work if the person has personal property worth more than that amount. If the personal property is a vehicle, you will first need to get a certified title and certified lien search through the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission.
3. If Bank Accounts Are Located
If your New Jersey collection lawyers find bank accounts owned by the judgment debtor, they may ask the court to levy the balances of those accounts. When this occurs, the funds contained in them will be frozen. The attorney will then file a Motion to Turn Over Funds with the court, which allows the court to get the money from the bank accounts by ordering the banks to pay it to you.
4. Wage Garnishment
As long as the judgment debtor is employed and makes more than $196.50 each week, your attorney may ask that their wages be garnished. If they do this, they will request a wage garnishment order from the court and then have it served on the judgment debtor’s employer. The employer will then withhold a part of the judgment debtor’s weekly earnings and send it to the court, who will then pay it to you. The debtor can file an objection to the wage garnishment application, and if they do so, the court will schedule a hearing. If the court holds a hearing and rules against the objection, the order will be issued. If no objection is filed, then the employer will garnish the wages as ordered.
5. Real Property Liens
If you are unable to collect your judgment through these methods, then you might want to request that a lien be placed on the judgment debtor’s real property. This will prevent them from being able to sell the property in the future unless the judgment is first paid. In order to do this, you will need to request a statement of docketing from the court in which you received your judgment. Once you have this, you will then need to file it with the clerk of the Superior Court. Once this is done, the judgment debtor will not be able to sell any real estate they own in the state until the judgment is paid to you.
Once the Judgment Is Paid in Full
After the judgment you have received is paid in full, whether they voluntarily did so or you were forced to use one of the judgment collection tactics, your final step is to file a warrant of satisfaction. This will clear any cloud on the judgment debtor’s property and will inform the court that the judgment has been satisfied. If you had help through the process, your New Jersey collection lawyers will file the warrant of satisfaction for you.
Each of the various methods have associated fees. You can request a copy of the fee schedule from the court.
Contact New Jersey Collection Lawyers
The process involved to collect on a judgment can be very complicated and frustrating. Many people do not understand exactly what is involved in seeking and obtaining payment on the judgments they have received. If you have sued someone and have a judgment against them that remains unpaid, you may want to seek legal help in order to get the money that you are owed. An attorney may be better able to locate all of the potential assets the judgment debtor owns that can be levied. They may also file a motion for contempt in the event the judgment debtor fails to answer questions asked through an information subpoena. Sometimes, people are more likely to comply when they must answer under threat of contempt of court. Using an attorney’s help can also save you the time and frustration involved with filing all of the documents and going through the process on your own. To meet with the New Jersey collection lawyers at Snellings Law LLC, call (973) 265-6100 and request an appointment.