Prepare for debtor's examination
Once you get the court order for a debtor's examination and serve it to the other side, they have to come to the exam to answer your questions about what they earn and own. You use that information to try to collect the money they owe you.
Prepare for court date
Write down questions you want to ask
At the court date, you'll have a chance to ask the other side questions. You can ask them things about the person's financial affairs, like where they bank, what money they own or debts they have, any income they make, and how they get paid.
Their answers may help you know where to try to collect your money. For example, if you find out they have a bank account, you can file forms that tell the sheriff to take money out of their bank account and give it to you.
Make a list of the questions you want to ask. Bring this with you to your court date. Also, bring a pen and paper to write down their answers.
Let the court know if you're paid before the court date
Sometimes, the other side will decide to pay you rather than go to the court date. If they do pay you the full amount owed, you need to file an Acknowledgment of Satisfaction of Judgment. Then, let the court know so they can cancel your court date
If they don't pay you, then they must come to the court date to answer your questions.
Go to the court date
At court on the day of the examination, the court will call the case. If the judgment debtor appears, they will be administered an oath as if they were testifying in court. The court typically tells you to go to the hall or another room to ask your questions. Ask them the questions on your list. Write down their answers. You can also ask other questions not on the list if you think of others based on their answers.
Keep in mind that you'll be asking the questions, not the judge. The judge often is not there when you ask the questions. But, if the other side (the debtor) does not answer your questions or give you the documents you asked for in a subpoena, you can tell the court clerk you need to speak to the judge because the debtor is not cooperating.
If the other side doesn’t show up at the court date, the judge can issue a bench warrant for their arrest. The court will typically need further instructions from you to issue the warrant and a check for $50.00 for the sheriff. This does not mean they’ll be arrested right away but they might be later.
If you found out where they bank, work, or own real estate, you can start the process to collect.
- To take money from their pay or bank account, your next step is to get an official document from the court that tells the sheriff or process server to take the money (a Writ of Execution).
- To try to get paid from the sale or refinance of their real estate, your next step is to get an official court document that shows you are owed the money (an Abstract of Judgment).
Go back to an overview
See all the steps and options to collect in a small claims case
Get a Writ of Execution
Get step-by-step instructions to get a Writ of Execution to collect from their pay or bank account
Get an Abstract of Judgment
Get instructions on how to take the first step to put a lien on their property