You have filed through a lawsuit, won your case and you may have a judgment in your favor and against the defendant that says the other party owes you money or property. Once you have a judgment, you are the “judgment creditor.” The person who lost the case is the “judgment debtor.” The next step is what you do to get paid.
1. Contact the Judgment Debtor
The first thing to consider is contacting the judgment debtor directly. You can request payment in full or you can agree to allow the judgment debtor to make payments to you. If the debtor agrees to make payments, then it is strongly recommended that you have a written agreement that clearly reflects the terms of the payment plan.
2. Obtain a Writ of Execution
If the judgment debtor does not respond to your request for payment there are many legal steps that you may take to collect your judgment. A Writ of Execution is required for most legal action used to collect a money judgment. This document may be obtained by preparing a Writ of Execution form and having it issued by the Superior Court clerk. The Writ is valid for a specific period of time before it expires. Then a new writ must be obtained. Basically the Writ is a court order that allows a sheriff or other similar official to take possession of property owned by a debtor to satisfy or pay the amount of your judgment.
3. Options Regarding the Debtor’s Assets
When you are researching potential assets of the judgment debtor, it may be useful to start with easier to reach assets such as a bank account or wage (if the debtor is an employee).The legal procedures to obtain a bank levy or garnish wages are relatively inexpensive. Other options may be to try to force a sale of the debtor’s vehicle, house, or personal property. The processes involved in collecting a judgment from these types of assets can be expensive, and time consuming.
4. Do Not Harass the Debtor
It is important to avoid harassing, intimidating or threatening the debtor. You should not make numerous calls to the debtor at work, late at night or early in the morning. Avoid frequent banging on their door, repeatedly going to their workplace or threatening them in any way. Taking these kind of actions could cause you to be sued rather than have your judgment paid off.
5. Think about Accepting a Lesser Amount
As the judgment creditor, you have the right to attempt to collect the full amount of the judgment. However, the collection process may be very expensive, frustrating and difficult. It may be a good idea to try to settle with the debtor for less than the full claim to be able to get payment and end the dispute.
6. Consider Hiring an Attorney
An attorney with experience in enforcement of judgments can assist you in evaluating and implementing collection strategies.
Lisa Wills of the Law Offices of Lisa D. Wills is an experienced business law attorney in Pleasanton, CA helping educate individuals and business owners to make good decisions. If you want solid legal assistance, contact Lisa Wills, Law Offices of Lisa D. Wills at (925) 463-9000 or send an email.