I am a Judgment Broker, and am not a lawyer. My articles are my opinions, and not legal advice. If you ever need any legal advice or a strategy to use, please contact a lawyer.
Diplomacy is one of the very few judgment enforcement tools that are free. Starting a recovery by being polite with your judgment debtor is easy, has very few risks, and might help you get paid.
Before, during, and soon after the court proceedings that resulted in the judgment; the judgment debtor might have been under stress. However, perhaps now, learning about your relaxed and easy repayment solution, where you suggest compromising somewhat on what they owe, might appeal to them.
Being diplomatic does not mean being a pushover, or letting yourself get taken advantage of. Diplomacy means both parties are willing to negotiate for their mutual benefit. Diplomacy requires some level of communication between the parties. Being polite only works when your judgment debtor is willing to communicate with you.
Enforcing a judgment with diplomacy starts when you use the phone, the post office, or even arrange to discuss in person; how amenable the judgment debtor is to the idea of working with you, to solve your mutual dilemma of their unsatisfied judgment debt.
If your judgment debtor returns your telephone call, or communicates a response to your letter, that is a good sign. Some people who do not respond the first time, may respond when you try again months later.
Email is ok, after you have first contacted your judgment debtor another way, and are on good terms with them. Be careful with email, keep it friendly and short when discussing topics related to the judgment. It is fine to discuss other topics such as the weather or sports.
When using email, avoid sharing private information or going into details. Keep discussions about judgments or debts as short and polite as possible. Conversations with judgment debtors by email should stay fairly close to gentle wordings such as: “Got your check, thanks”, “Didn’t get your check yet, thanks”, “OK, try to send a check when you can”, “Please call me”, or “I’ll mail you a statement”.
It is not helpful to get into discussions about whether or not the decision of the court was fair or not. Be empathetic and sympathetic, however politely remind them it is the judge’s order that counts. Remind them it is best to focus on the solution, rather than dwelling on the past that cannot be changed.
Any time you can persuade a judgment debtor to pay you voluntarily, it saves you time and money recovering your judgment. For average debtors, perhaps try polite negotiations first.
If your debtor is a professional scammer, you might want to start quickly with heavy-duty recovery strategies, to catch them by surprise, before they can hide their assets further. A scoundrel might try to hide their assets. Last-minute asset hiding rarely fools courts or recovery specialists.
The main point to make to your judgment debtor, is that judgments accrue interest, and judgments can be renewed, possibly forever. If they agree to quickly start making payments or settle with a lump sum, you can waive some of the interest owed, and save them a lot of enforcement costs. Working with you, will save them a lot of time, hassles, and money.
Sometimes a judgment debtor is willing to pay, however does not have the funds available to pay you. A payment plan can be the answer. Even the most optimistic judgment debtor cannot predict the future. If your judgment debtor is poor, having them pay what they are able to, when they can, should be your goal.
Even when the judgment debtor has a job and/or income, it is rare for them to consistently make long-term payments on time. It is a good idea to have them agree to contact you by email, phone, or mail once a month; even if only to communicate they “cannot pay you this month”.
The worst thing that can happen when you start by being polite, is that your judgment debtor will not respond or will be rude; in which case you can begin conventional judgment enforcement strategies.