Timing is Everything
Remember, when the court orders the defendant to pay you money, it is your responsibility to collect the money. The court will not act to collect it for you. The key is not to take action too soon, but also not to wait too long. At a minimum, you must wait 30 days from the date that the court issues the judgment before you can take any action to collect on your judgment. In other words, you must give the debtor 30 days to pay before you do anything. Meanwhile, the judgment is valid for 10 years. Keep in mind, if 10 years go by without the debtor paying you and without you contacting the debtor to collect a money judgment, then the judgment can expire. In other words, if a judgement expires, it is no longer valid and the debtor no longer owes you for it. On the contrary, a creditor, however, can renew their judgment before the judgment’s expiration date.
Legal Tools for Collecting a Judgment
First, if the debtor does not pay within 30 days, you should contact him or her in writing to collect a money judgment. In the event he or she still does not pay, then you can get the courts involved again. You can apply for any of the following tools to collect a judgment in California:
- Earnings withholding/Wage Garnishment (collect against the debtor’s employment paychecks until the debt is paid)
- Bank levy (one-time collection of monies in a specific bank account)
- Keeper levy (Sheriff stays in debtor’s store or business for the day and collects all receipts)
- Till tap levy (one-time collection of monies in the store or business cash register)
- Judgment Debtor Exam (requires the debtor to come to court and disclose their assets and where they are located)
There may be other tools, but all involve the court taking money or property from the debtor to satisfy the judgment. A registered legal document assistant can help you prepare the forms to apply for any of these tools. Another option is to have a third-party collection agency to try to collect the debt.
The “No No’s” of Judgment Collection
Whatever you do, do not harass a debtor when trying to collect a money judgment. You can get into serious legal trouble if you harass the debtor. Harassment can include calling the debtor before 8:00 in the morning or after 9:00 in the evening. It is also harassment if you contact other people to find out information about the debtor’s whereabouts or finances. Do not threaten the debtor with violence or criminal penalties.
Using a Legal Document Assistant to Collect a Money Judgment
Spending lots of money on a lawyer to help you collect your judgment is not worth it. Collecting what is due you can be an expensive process. In some situations, creditors may find it impossible to collect what is owed, often after spending thousands of dollars in attorney fees! A registered legal document assistant is all you need to prepare the necessary documents. Contact A People’s Choice to prepare the documents you need to collect a money judgment. Call us today at 800-747-2780.
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