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Alabama Judgment Enforcement
I am not a lawyer. This is a summary of what I have learned and observed. If you need legal advice, contact a lawyer (See our National Lawyer State Bar List).
Because this is a summary of how to enforce an Alabama judgment, here is a PDF download file link, with more information: http://law.onecle.com/alabama/civil-practice/chapter9.html.
A judgment is a final order of a court, signed by a commissioner or judge that shows that a cash amount is owed by one party to another. The courts cannot help you enforce your judgment. You must enforce it yourself, or get help to enforce it.
Currently the Alabama interest rate (simple non-compounded annual interest) can be the same as the pre-judgment contract rate, however it is usually 12%. Post-judgment interest is not compounded - even when the judgment is renewed. Certain costs, especially when an attorney is used, can be reimbursed and accrue interest.
Alabama has three civil courts that address judgment enforcement matters. If the judgment amount is less than $3,000, you will be in the Small Claims court. If the judgment amount is less than $10,000, you will be in District court. If the amount is more than $10,000 you will be in Circuit court.
Judgments are enforceable for ten years, and can be revived (renewed) before ten years are up, but they can only be enforced for 20 years. After 20 years, Alabama judgments become worthless.
Judgments becomes liens on the judgment debtor's real property in the county in which a certificate of judgment lien is filed. Liens last only as long as the underlying judgment lasts.
You can also levy on the debtor's personal property or garnish their wages, up to 25% of their non-exempt income. To start a garnishment of the debtor's assets, you need a writ of garnishment.
To get a writ, you must prepare and sign an application in front of an officer authorized to administer oaths. Then you file an affidavit with the clerk of the court in which the judgment was entered. The affidavit must state the amount due from the judgment debtor to the judgment creditor, that process of garnishment is believed to be necessary to obtain satisfaction thereof, and that the person to be summoned as garnishee is believed to be chargeable as garnishee in the case.
After you have a court-endorsed writ, the officer filing the affidavit issues a process of garnishment, with a copy for each garnishee, to be personally served on each garnishee (e.g., the employer or bank) and the debtor.
You can domesticate a judgment into Alabama (meaning you can enforce it as if the judgment was awarded in Alabama). To do this, you need an authenticated copy of the foreign state judgment, and an affidavit listing the name and last known mailing address of the judgment debtor and creditor, and file it in an Alabama court close to the debtor and their assets.
Here are some judgment-related laws and rules in Alabama. Laws, regulations, and court rules change over time, so please confirm any laws described in this or any of my articles. My articles are my opinions, and not legal advice.
Alabama Code Civil Procedure 66-391: To obtain a writ of garnishment, a judgment creditor must make, before an officer authorized to administer oaths, and file, with the clerk of the court in which the judgment was entered, an affidavit stating the amount due from the judgment debtor to the judgment creditor, that process of garnishment is believed to be necessary to obtain satisfaction thereof and that the person to be summoned as garnishee is believed to be chargeable as garnishee in the case.
Alabama Code Civil Procedure 66-393: Upon the filing of the affidavit, the officer filing the affidavit must issue process of garnishment and a copy thereof for each garnishee, to be served by the proper officer, requiring the garnishee to appear within 30 days and file an answer upon oath.
Alabama Code Civil Procedure 64A: When a garnishment is issued on a judgment in which an appearance has not been entered for the defendant, the officer issuing the garnishment must issue notice to the defendant contemporaneously with the service of process of garnishment on the garnishee. The notice shall identify the name of the parties, the court in which the action is pending and the case number. In addition, except in proceedings to collect child or spousal support, the notice shall also contain a statement concerning rights of exemption.
Alabama Code Civil Procedure 66-450: Upon filing of the garnishee's answer, the clerk or register shall give the plaintiff and the defendant notice, and the garnishee may, if required by the plaintiff, be examined orally in the presence of the court. Any demand for oral examination must be made by motion filed within 30 days from the date of notice of filing of the answer.
Alabama Code Civil Procedure 66-452: If the garnishee admits the possession of money belonging to the defendant, he must pay the same or so much as may be necessary to satisfy the plaintiff's demand and costs into court to await the order of the court.
Alabama Code Civil Procedure 66-462: When the answer of the garnishee is not controverted or, if controverted, is found for him, he shall be allowed $3 per day during his attendance when such attendance is required, together with five cents per mile going to and returning from court. In addition, when the personal attendance of the garnishee is not required, he shall be allowed $3 for such answer, which shall be taxed and collected as other costs.
Alabama Code Civil Procedure 8810, eights of exemption, Alabama Code Civil Procedure 64A: Interest Rate at which Judgments Accrue Judgments for the payment of money, other than costs, if based upon a contract action, bear interest from the day of the cause of action, at the same rate of interest as stated in the contract. All other judgments shall bear interest at the rate of 12 percent per annum. In addition, fees allowed a trustee, executor, administrator, or attorney and taxed as part of the cost of the proceeding shall bear interest at a like rate from the day of entry.
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