Judgments are not cash, and when you get a judgment almost anything can happen. What potentially occurs, ranges between wasting a huge amount of money attempting to recover it and getting nothing back; and full repayment including all interest and costs owed. Usually, nothing is ever recovered.
This article is my opinion, and not legal advice. I am a judgment expert, and am not a lawyer. If you ever need any legal advice or a strategy to use, please contact a lawyer. In my judgment-related job, I have seen it all. The most common judgment scenarios include:
A) Your judgment debtor files for bankruptcy; and if they are successful, your judgment becomes worthless.
B) If your judgment is for fraud, child support, crime, or wrongful death; and your debtor files for bankruptcy, you may decide to pay to fight them in bankruptcy court. If you win, your judgment survives. If you do not bring this to the attention of the court or fight the debtor with an adversarial action, or you lose one in BK court; your judgment usually becomes worthless.
C) If your judgment is by default, your judgment debtor may attempt to vacate your judgment, making it worthless unless you sue them again to get a new judgment.
D) Your judgment debtor appeals your judgment. If you do not pay to defend your judgment in appeals court, it might become worthless.
E) You sell your judgment for cash upfront. You can save lots of time with a judgment broker. You assign your judgment to a buyer in exchange for payment. The good news is you are done, you never have to think about your judgment again. The bad news is that actual judgment buyers only pay what they think your debtor can repay and factor in all the risks, and this usually is affected by our economic mess.
F) You pay an attorney by the hour to recover your judgment. The good news is if your debtor has assets, this can get you paid more than with most other options. The bad news is that if your debtor does not have sufficient available assets, or anything goes wrong; whatever you paid your attorney is money down the drain.
G) You attempt to recover your judgment yourself. You pay all the costs and do all the work. This works best when you have spare time and money to devote to this effort and your debtor has obvious available assets.
H) You choose a contingency judgment recovery solution. The good part is that you are outsourcing all the time and money required for the attempt to recover your judgment. With few exceptions, you pay nothing upfront, and get a portion of what is recovered. Sometimes you will have to assign your judgment to someone. Everything depends on your debtor. The contingency rate you get can range from 8% to 80% of what may be recovered, with the national average being about 50%.
I) Your judgment expires. I have talked to at least a dozen people over the years that have told me they would rather let their judgment expire than share any part of it to get it recovered. I often remind people that half of something is better than all of nothing.