Collecting a Judgment
What happens when you win a case, and the judge issues a judgment? Due to a number of factors, collecting a judgment can often times be more challenging than winning the actual case and obtaining the judgment in the first place. The law firm of Ball & McCann, P.C. offers a number of recommendations and techniques on how to collect on a judgment, and obtain the maximum amount of recovery in the shortest period of time.
(1) Check to see if the Debtor has Filed for Bankruptcy
It is quite common for debtors with substantial amounts of debt to file for bankruptcy. There is an automatic stay in federal bankruptcy law that serves as an automatic injunction that prevents actions by creditors, subject to certain exceptions, to collect debts from a debtor who has declared bankruptcy. That being the case, it is wise to perform a fast PACER search (https://www.pacer.gov/findcase.html) to determine whether or not the debtor has filed for bankruptcy.
(2) Attempt to Collect the Judgment
Section 2-1402 of the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure outlines a few main procedures to collect a judgment:
a) Citation to Discover Assets: A Citation to Discover Assets is a legal proceeding that you can request once you obtain a judgment. Once ordered by a judge, a Citation to Discover Assets proceeding will compel the debtor to appear at court and testify under oath as to his or her assets and liabilities. If the debtor does not comply with a Citation to Discover Assets, then it is possible the debtor can be held in contempt of court.
b) Wage Garnishment: A Wage Garnishment is a summons that is issues by the court to the debtor's employer, and it orders the employer to withhold a certain amount of the debtor's wages and to instead pay the amount to the person who obtained the judgment or directly to the court.
c) Non-Wage Garnishment: A Non-Wage Garnishment is used when you know of a third party that has possession of the debtor's money or property, such as a bank. If that is the case, you can ask the court to compel the third party to testify under oath regarding the debtor's property.
d) Charging Order: If a debtor owns a small business, then you may be able to obtain a Charging Order, which will entitle you to intercept any money that the debtor uses to pay themselves from the business.
e) Lien: If a debtor has equity in their house or another piece of property, you can place a lien on their property and file for a foreclosure to collect the money you are owed.
f) Tax Returns: It is also possible to go after a persons local and state income tax returns.
In conclusion, there are a variety of mechanisms to use to collect a debt in the State of Illinois, many of which are described above. In order to ensure that you are using the best mechanism that will collect the debt you are owed in the quickest, and most efficient manner possible, contact Ball & McCann, P.C., so our skilled attorneys can assist you in collecting the money you are owed.