You’ve done the all the work to get justice, win your case and get a court order for the defendant to pay you what is rightfully yours. Congratulations, you’ve just converted your defendant into a debtor. In debt to you, and probably a million other people too.
I’m going to concentrate on you right now. I know the frustration of winning and not being able to collect. Always assume if someone cheated you out of an asset or money that they’ve done it to someone else and that someone else is also looking for their money and assets to seize too. Because of this, you need to be methodical and thorough in your skip trace investigations, filings and most importantly, don’t procrastinate!
Most creditors (that’s you) can’t justify the expense of hiring a private investigator to find assets so the case just smolders and the expiration date soon sneaks up and kills your ability to ever collect with a red hot arrow through the heart.
Simply filing a Writ of Garnishment will keep your judgment alive. In many states it will also extend the life of the judgment to another ten years. Contacting your court to ask if there are forms for garnishment available will help you do this without the need of hiring an attorney. Because I buy judgments from all over the United States, I hear, “I can’t give you legal advice.” as a response. I typically argue that I’m not seeking legal advice. I want to find out the procedure to file a garnishment and levy pro se.
Don’t get discouraged or deterred from the quest to collect your own judgment, there’s easy answers to these legal questions that court clerks don’t want to answer. Often civil court records, motions and petitions are viewable online and if they’re not, contact a local process server to get some help.
This is a smart way to get examples to style your own filings and you’ll want to use a private process server to get your papers served to banks, storage units and other companies that hold assets belonging to your debtor.
Keep in mind that there are some situations where a constable will be required to serve the levy or garnishment. One scenario would be when a levy is filed to seize non exempt property from a home or business. In every case that I’ve encountered in the past, the judgment creditor would provide a moving company to psychically remove the property at the constable’s direction.
Garnishing a paycheck by a writ is also the top choice for enforcing a judgment. There are four states where wage garnishment is not available to a judgment creditor with the exception of child support or other court ordered expenses relating to the support of a child. Those are Texas, North Carolina, South Carolina and Pennsylvania.
I’ve had many filed many writs in the past, sometimes a debtor will just quit their job leaving me dead in the water. When you find a new job, you file another writ. All the filing fees are awarded to the creditor so the debtor pays those in the grand total. If you talk to your debtor, you may want to encourage them to voluntarily make payments by pressing the point that you’re actively going to enforce the judgment and that you’re not giving up anytime soon.