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Multiple Judgment Debtors

When there is more than one judgment debtor named on a judgment, it usually increases the odds that some money can be recovered on that judgment. My articles are my opinions, and not legal advice. I am a judgment broker, not a lawyer. If you ever need any legal advice or a strategy to use, please contact a lawyer.

A simple multiple judgment debtor example, would be if Mr. Chris Creditor won a civil money judgment against Dan Deadbeat, (Dan's sister) Debbie Deadbeat, and their business associate Sammy Scammer. The judgment states that all three are jointly and severally liable, and all owe the $60,000. Jointly and severally liable means that money may be recovered from one, both, or all three of those judgment debtors. One cannot legally collect more than the total of $60,000 in this example (plus costs and interest) owed from each, or all of the judgment debtors named on that judgment.

Chris Creditor can perform post-judgment investigations on all three judgment debtors. Chris can identity and locate each of their assets. If one judgment debtor has non-exempt assets available, which are sufficient to satisfy the entire judgment debt, the judgment can be recovered from that one judgment debtor. If that judgment debtor thinks that is unfair, they can file for bankruptcy protection, try to vacate the judgment, or more likely, take the matter up with the other two judgment debtors.

The available assets of all three judgment debtors can be levied to satisfy that judgment. Very few judgment debtors have $60,000 sitting in their checking account. Usually, judgment debtor bank levies only capture enough money to partially satisfy a judgment. If Chris Creditor pays a Sheriff to levy the bank accounts of all three judgment debtors and gets $6,000 more than what is owed; that $6,000 must be returned to the judgment debtor(s) who have paid the most, usually because of the result of Sheriff levies of their bank account(s).

When there are multiple judgment debtors, which judgment debtor should you try to recover from first? The first answer is the judgment debtor who seems to have the most available assets. The second answer depends on the way each judgment debtor was served notice of the lawsuit, and which judgment debtors responded and showed up in court, when the lawsuit was getting turned into a judgment.

All other things being equal, default judgments are weaker judgments. When a judgment debtor is served notice of a lawsuit and then does not appear in court, that means any judgment against them will be by default. Sometimes, when multiple defendants are served notice of the lawsuit against them, some of them show up in court, and some do not.

Judgment debtors that do not show up in court get default judgments against them, and the ones that do show up get regular judgments against them. With a default judgment, judgment debtors can lie and claim they were not served, even when they were. If the judge believes them, the court may grant a judgment debtor's motion to vacate the judgment.

Default judgments, where the judgment debtor was not personally served notice of the lawsuit by a Sheriff, Marshall, or a registered process server, are the weakest judgments of all. All things being equal, it makes sense to first try to recover from the judgment debtors that showed up in court. Between default judgment debtors with similar asset situations, the ones served notice of the lawsuit personally, are the ones to try to recover from first.

If a judgment is eventually {settled or repaid|repaid or settled}, a satisfaction of judgment must be stamped and filed by the court to release every judgment debtor named on the judgment.


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