Congratulations on winning your case and receiving the judgment in your favor. You're one step closer to the compensation you were owed at the beginning of your legal journey. But how do you get that compensation from the other party?
The court's judgment may seem final and binding to you - but that can be complicated. The other party is required by law to pay the debt, but the courts have little ability to enforce that payment. But don't worry, here are some ways to get your money.
Methods to Collect a Judgement:
- Contact the Other Party - Speaking with your debtor is the easiest way to collect your payment. Let them know firmly they legally owe you money.
- Real Estate Lien - to file a real estate lien, you will want to contact your local county recorder's office and provide them with the judgment information. The lien will make it so the debtor has to fulfill the judgment before they can sell the liened property.
- Wage Garnishment - A writ of garnishment will ensure that your judgment is slowly deducted from the other party's wages. Every state has a cap on how much you can garnish, so repayment via this method tends to take a bit longer. If your debtor has an income below a certain threshold (decided by the state), you may be unable to garnish their wages.
- Business Asset Seizure (through law enforcement) - You may be able to pay your local law enforcement agency to help seize their business assets to cover the judgment you're owed. But it's important to remember that they are the only ones allowed to take cash, money in bank accounts, or other assets of the other party. You'll want to contact your local law enforcement agency to begin this process.
- Contact their licensing board - If a regulatory board oversees your debtor, you may be able to file your judgment with the board and threaten their license. Be prepared - many boards will ask you to provide evidence that you have tried other methods first.
- Hire a collection agency - Collection agencies can purchase your debt off you and begin to pursue it themselves. Retrieving debt is how they make a living, so they'll likely have more time and resources than you to go after the other party. Remember, they will likely only pay you a percentage of the total debt owed, so you may want to exhaust other options first.
- Renew your Judgement - Judgements expire but are also renewable as sometimes they can take years to collect. Contact the court where you won the judgment and a lawyer who handles debt collection to learn more about how your state handles this process.
Again, congratulations on winning your case and receiving the judgment in your favor. Collecting from the other party can seem intimidating, but many options and organizations are here to help.