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Partially Enforced Judgments
Partial judgment recoveries are much more common than full judgment recoveries. Most judgments are never recovered, and of those that are, most are only partially recovered. If a judgment creditor recovers anything on their judgment, it is a big win.
Even during boom economic times, judgment enforcement was never easy. Even during good times, most people did not recover judgments themselves, and most judgments were never enforced. Even with "slam dunk" wage and bank garnishment situations, garnishments are not easy or free, and learning the forms and procedures for the first time is not easy.
The economic situation has affected judgment recovery strongly. Now, to recover anything on a judgment is a major win. Even during good economic times, judgments were often settled for part or most of what was owed. These days, most judgments are either not recovered, or satisfied for only part of what is owed.
Judgments can be fragile, and have some potential enemies including bankruptcy, being vacated, being appealed, judgment debtors dying, hiding assets, moving, or losing their jobs or homes or bank accounts.
Judgment enforcement solutions have also been hit hard by the economy. Most enforcers and contingency lawyers are much more picky about which judgments they will accept, than they used to be.
Many judgment buyers are now out of business. The ones still in business have reduced how much they pay for a judgments, and have become pickier about which judgments they will buy.
After buying a judgment, most judgment buyers settle with the judgment debtor for less than what is owed, so they can lock in some profit, rather than risking potential future profits.
Judgment enforcement is also thwarted by certain laws that give breaks to judgment debtors. Some states make it difficult to recover judgments. Judgment debtors get exemptions for many kinds of income, some courts do not allow small claim judgments to be assigned, unlimited homestead exemptions, etc.
Some courts are downright hostile to judgment enforcers if they are not lawyers. Judgment enforcers provide a very valuable function, trying to recover money from judgments which are not appropriate for lawyers.
More than once in my job, I have heard about properly notarized and court-endorsed assignments of judgments, later getting unraveled by court actions from unreasonable original judgment creditors or their attorneys.
With the degraded economy, and existing and new changes in laws, recovering an average judgment is more challenging than ever before. For both original judgment creditors and judgment enforcers, if a judgment debtor is poor, settling for part of what is owed makes a lot of sense.
Judgments are not guaranteed, they are chances to get money. Most judgment owners never see a dime of what is owed them. Negotiation and settlement can be a powerful judgment recovery tool.
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