How to collect a judgment
To collect, you'll need to know where they have money and then figure out the best way to collect it. As you go, keep track of what you spend trying to collect so you can ask to add it to the total they owe you.
1. Try to get them to pay voluntarily
Write them a letter or ask
You can write a letter that explains that the amount owed increases by 10% each year (collects interest). Let them know that what's owed can show up in public records and that you can collect it from their pay or bank account. Make sure they have an easy way to pay you.
Consider taking less money or payments
You can offer to make a deal where you will accept less money if they pay you quicker or a lump sum. You can have something in writing about what you agreed to, but the creditor will want to beware that the agreement does not replace the judgment. They would have to file a lawsuit to enforce the agreement. A lawyer can help explain the risks.
If they pay, you must fill out and file an Acknowledgment of Satisfaction of Judgment with the court.
2. Find out what the other person earns and owns
If they don't pay you voluntarily, you'll need to find out more about where they get money, where they keep it, and if they have any other property. You also want to know who else they owe money to and if those creditors have liens on their property that are ahead of yours. If you don't already know this information, you can ask for a court date where you can ask for this information. This is called a debtor's exam.
Collecting any of these ways costs money. You may be able to have some or all of these costs added to what's owed. You can also add interest.
Let the court know if you end up getting paid the full amount
If they pay you the full amount, either voluntarily or through your collection efforts, you must let the court know right away. The debtor can also ask (demand) you do this. If you do not report you were paid to the court within 15 days of the debtor's demand, you may face a penalty ad be liable. You do this by filing an Acknowledgment and Satisfaction of Judgment.
Collecting from the other side can be hard
Your court's Self-Help Center may be able to help. You can hire a lawyer to help you. You can assign your right to collect the money to a collection agency or judgment enforcer. Anyone working to help collect the judgment will change a fee.
- If you want a bank levy or wage garnishment, your first is to get a court order that lets the sheriff take the money (called a Writ of Execution). Then, you'll need to fill out more forms for the bank or employer.
- If you want to put a lien on their property, you will need to first get an Abstract of Judgment.
Go back to an overview
Get general information about judgments.
Get a Writ of Execution
Get step-by-step instructions on how to get a Writ of Execution so you can do a bank levy or wage garnishment
Get Abstract of Judgment
Get step-by-step instructions to get an Abstract of Judgment and record a lien