I am a judgment broker, not a lawyer. This is my opinion about what I have learned and observed. If you need legal advice, contact a lawyer (See our National Lawyer State Bar List).
The easy part was getting the judge to agree with you, to get your judgment.
At every courthouse – there should be a sign that says: “When you win a judgment – don’t expect to be paid”. Of course such signs do not exist.
While court is a place to win a judgment, the court does not care if the judgment is repaid. In most courts, they do not even allow social security numbers, birth dates, or any other debtor information on any court paperwork. The reason given is privacy concerns. It seems that when you owe money, your privacy is the primary concern.
The only information on most judgments is the persons name, and the address they were served at. You must learn obscure laws and fill out complex paperwork to enforce your judgment.
Also, you must pay lawyers, courts, process servers, private investigators, or Sheriffs at every step. You pay to try to collect – you don’t get refunds if the collection effort fails. And as the economy slides, governments and courts are raising their fees and reducing their services.
The enemies of a successful judgment collection are small judgments and poor (or old or sick) debtors. When a judgment is small (e.g. less than $12,000), it is too small to be worth paying a lawyer to help you collect a Judgment. When the judgment is very small (e.g. less than $2,000) it is too small to interest most judgment enforcers.
When a debtor is poor, nothing can be done, except convince them to pay tiny amounts or hope things improve for them. Improvement can mean the economy improves, they inherit something, or win the lotto. The same problem comes up when you sue a company that is now broke.
When the debtor is old (or disabled), many assets such as retirement funds, disability, and social security is off limits – even if the debtor defrauded you. An old slogan comes to mind – “youth and skill” is no match for “old age and treachery”.
The economy is not helping people recover their judgments. There was a time when all you had to do was record a lien on property, and you would be paid. That is no longer a reliable way to be paid.
Now a better case, your Judgment is against a rich young person with assets in their own name. Basically the pattern is:
Identify an asset, fill out paperwork, and pay the court, Sheriff, and sometimes others, to seize the asset. Then wait to see if the seizure works. Sometimes it does not work. One example is when there is another wage garnishment ahead of yours.
Except for bank account and wage levies, and advanced procedures like assignment orders – all other assets must be sold at a Sheriff auction. As an example, you cannot take their TV set. You can pay the Sheriff a big deposit, and have them take the TV and sell it at a public auction. If you try and have the Sheriff sell something bigger – like a car or a house – you can waste thousands to sell something that does not belong to the debtor. (E.g. a property that is upside down or a leased car.)
Finally, you must always be calm and polite. If you make a mistake, you may end up owing the debtor money. The biggest mistake you can make is trying to collect on a judgment discharged in bankruptcy.
Many rely on judgment experts such as judgment enforcers to enforce their judgment. Location is everything. Florida and Texas are debtor-friendly states. And Nevada, Missouri, and Arizona have special rules that make enforcing small judgments troublesome.
In summary, the easy part is getting the judgment. Most people end up finding a judgment enforcer. They are easy to find, that is JudgmentBuy’s expertise.