Did you know that the vast majority of civil judgments entered in U.S. courts are never actually paid? It’s true. But why? Maybe it’s because so many plaintiffs – a.k.a. judgment creditors – believe their only recourse after winning a judgment is crossing their fingers and hoping for the best.
The truth is that judgment creditors don’t have to leave collection to chance. They do not have to just cross their fingers in hopes of getting full cooperation from their debtors. Judgment creditors do have legal tools at their disposal. They do have options above and beyond setting up payment plans.
A Good Starting Point
Judgment Collectors is a Utah-based collection agency that specializes in judgments. They maintain offices in Salt Lake City. Their team says that attempting to set up a payment plan with a debtor is a good starting point. Payment plans work if a debtor is cooperative, has sufficient financial resources, and fully intends to pay the debt.
Sadly, cooperative debtors with adequate resources are the exception rather than the rule. Any creditor who finds himself working with a cooperative debtor should consider himself lucky.
This begs the question of possible next steps. When a creditor attempts to set up a payment plan in good faith but the debtor refuses to go along, what is the creditor’s next move? That depends on how the creditor wants to proceed.
A Variety of Options
Judgment Collectors, judgment collection specialists out of Utah explains that creditors have a variety of options according to state law. Laws differ from one state to the next, so not every option is available in every state. With that understanding, here are some of the more common options found in most states:
- Wage Garnishment – States may allow judgment creditors to garnish debtor wages. Garnishment is essentially a legal order compelling a debtor’s employer to withhold a certain amount of disposable income and forward it to the creditor until the judgment is satisfied.
- Bank Garnishment – In addition to wage garnishment, many states allow bank account garnishment. Both checking and savings accounts can be garnished to help pay an outstanding judgment.
- Property Liens – Property liens are another option available in most states. Liens can be placed on all sorts of real property with the possible exception of the debtor’s primary residence. A lien guarantees the creditor will get paid if the property in question is sold.
- Asset Seizure – Many states allow judgment creditors to seize and sell certain types of assets. Vacation properties can be seized. So can assets like planes, collectible cars, boats, and so forth.
It must be noted that all the tools available to judgment creditors still need to be utilized in accordance with the law. For example, filing a lien requires adhering to established principles and procedures. A creditor needs to do things right or his efforts could be in vain.
Going Back to Court
Despite having access to so many tools, creditors often need to go back to court to utilize them. During the course of a years-long collection effort, a creditor may find himself back in court half-a-dozen times. If there is any good news in this regard, it is the fact that most states allow creditors to add their ongoing court costs to their respective judgments.
The vast majority of judgments entered in United States courts never get collected. Creditors simply cross their fingers and hope for the best. More often than not, they are the losers. But it does not have to be this way. The law gives creditors access to collection tools that can truly make a difference.