Using the New Jersey court system to seek a judgment against a debtor is one method for debt collection. However, a judgment is only effective if it can be enforced. Our collections lawyers can take a wide variety of steps to enforce the judgment you have won in court, and to ensure that you receive what you are owed.
What happens after we get a judgment?
A collections lawyer in New Jersey can take numerous steps to enforce your judgment. Some of the available collection tools we can assist you with include:
- Wage garnishments. A wage garnishment allows a creditor to receive a percentage of the judgment-debtor’s paycheck until the court-awarded amount is paid in full.
- Bank levies. A bank levy allows a creditor to freeze a bank account to receive payment on the judgment amount.
- Liens. A judgment creditor can place a lien on either the judgment debtor’s real property or personal property.
- Depositions. We can conduct depositions (or interview under oath) of judgment debtors to determine the location of their assets.
- Seizures and writs of execution. With the assistance of a sheriff, a creditor can seize assets and property owned by the judgment debtor to satisfy the judgment amount.
- Pursue fraudulent transfers. If the judgment debtor transferred assets to a third party in an effort to hide them from a creditor, we can file a lawsuit against the party holding the property for the judgment debtor.
If you have obtained a judgment in another state that you want to enforce in New Jersey, we can help you with the judgment domestication procedure. We can also take enforcement actions to recover the amount owed to you.
Creative ways we can help enforce your judgment
If the debtor is not responding to any of the above legal tactics for debt recovery, we also have developed creative and effective strategies for recovering the debt owed to you. Some disputes can reach resolution with a “forbearance agreement.” Typically, this means a judgment debtor must:
- execute a new promissory note,
- furnish collateral, and
- provide a personal guarantee of payment in exchange for the creditor’s agreement to withhold or forbear from using the available collection tools.
This may result in it taking more time for you to receive payment. However, this method actually can improve a creditor’s priority and opens new methods for collection efforts in the future.
New legislation affecting the enforcement of foreign judgments
The Foreign Country Money-Judgments Recognition Act has made it more difficult for judgment creditors in foreign countries to collect debts in New Jersey.
Before the legislation was signed into law, a judgment creditor need only file notice with a Superior Court clerk to have the judgment enforced. This is still the case with judgments handed down in another state. However, judgments handed down in a different country are more difficult to collect.
The problem with foreign judgments
Legislators believed that New Jersey made it too easy for foreign creditors to obtain judgments against U.S. citizens. The question was a legal one and had more to do with the quality of the judicial process that rendered the judgment than the validity of the debt itself. Legislators could not be sure if the foreign courts operated at the same standard of fairness as those in the U.S. So, they made the process of proving a foreign judgment was valid more difficult.
Filing a complaint for recognition in New Jersey
In order to make a foreign judgment enforceable, the judgment creditor must file a complaint for recognition in the state of New Jersey. The judgment creditor will be forced to show that the judgment itself was final and enforceable before it was domesticated in New Jersey. In addition, they will need to show that the court that rendered the judgment had jurisdiction over such lawsuits. They will also need to show that the judgment was enforceable under that country’s laws. A New Jersey court will not enforce judgments related to governmental levies. These include taxes, fines, or any other administrative penalties. A New Jersey court will only enforce judgments that are brought on behalf of private lenders.
Judgment debtor has a chance to respond
The judgment debtor has a chance to respond to the allegations that they owe the debt in a foreign country. The debtor’s response will generally be some variation on: “The New Jersey Courts should not recognize this judgment against me”. In the case where the judgment is owed in another state, this is quite difficult to prove. In the case that the original judgment was handed down in a foreign country, the court will be forced to evaluate the process by which that judgment was rendered and executed.
There are certain instances in which New Jersey courts will not enforce a judgment that was handed down in another country. If the court does not feel that the judicial process employed by that country was fair or impartial, the courts will not domesticate the judgment in New Jersey. The judgment creditor will also need to prove that the foreign court had jurisdiction over the lawsuit and the judgment debtor themselves.
A failure to prove any one of these will result in the court refusing to domesticate the judgment.
How Snellings Law LLC can help
It’s important to have an attorney on your side who understands the new legislation. They should also understand the process of domesticating a foreign judgment under the new New Jersey regulations. Snellings Law LLC has experience helping foreign creditors domesticate judgments in New Jersey. The new legislation makes the process more difficult for judgment creditors, but it does not bar collection of the debt.
The idea behind the law was to weed out bad claims from the court — not to make the process impossible. Nonetheless, failure to comply with deadlines and procedures can render an otherwise valid claim unenforceable in New Jersey. An experienced NJ collections attorney will work hard to make sure that doesn’t happen to your judgment.
In essence, we only have to establish three things: that the court under which the judgment was handed down had jurisdiction to hand down and a judgment and that the process of handing down that judgment was fair under the country’s laws. When the process for obtaining the judgment is fair, none of these are overly difficult to establish.
We can then go about enforcing your judgment under New Jersey law.
Contact a collections lawyer in New Jersey to learn more about enforcing your judgment
We take pride in our diligent and thorough approach to enforcing your judgment. We work hard to help you recover what is owed to your business. To schedule an appointment to discuss your judgment matter, contact us today. The office of Snellings Law LLC is conveniently located in Parsippany. It also provides available parking, access to public transportation and flexible office hours by request.
Have a question? Get in touch with us. We would be glad to hear from you.
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