Through default proceedings, Assessment Hearing or Trial, you have Judgment (and are now known as the creditor). This may not be the end of the case. The Court does not pay the Judgment and then go after the Defendant (now known as the debtor). You may need to take enforcement proceedings to (possibly) get paid as detailed in the Rules of the Small Claims Court.
Creditors can start taking enforcement steps immediately after Judgment is given but may wish to wait the 30-day appeal period. This is especially important if the Judgment was obtained at a contested Trial. If enforcement steps are taken and an Appeal later filed, the creditor might not be able to collect on the fees paid out in enforcement.
Miller Paralegal Services starts by sending a letter advising of the Judgment and requesting payment or to set up a payment schedule. We may later have to take other steps to enforce your Judgment if the debtor’s response is not satisfactory. The faster the creditor acts, the better (generally) the results will be. There are costs associated with each step of enforcement – both in legal fees and in filing fees with the Court.
Miller Paralegal Services can also garnish:
- bank account(s) (if know where debtor banks); or
- wages (if know where employed); or
- other money owed to the debtor – for example rents owed by tenant(s) if the debtor is a landlord.
If this information is not known, we can begin the enforcement process by requesting a Judgment Debtor Examination hearing. In this hearing, Miller Paralegal Services will ask a number of questions to ascertain employment, banking and other asset information. During the time of COVID-19, examinations are being held virtually on the Zoom platform. Please review Zoom protocols.
Miller Paralegal Services can also enforce a Judgment by filing Writs of:
- Seizure and Sale of Land against all real estate owned by the debtor within a specified county; or
- Seizure and Sale of Personal Property to allow the Sheriff to seize and auction off personal items owned by the debtor; or
- Delivery to allow the Sheriff to seize and return property held by the debtor but owned by the creditor.
There are additional costs if the Sheriff is to seize property in either of these last two scenarios. These costs may be in the thousands of dollars.
If a debtor enters into bankruptcy proceedings, the Judgment will be stayed (put on hold). The Judgment is voided and no longer collectable if they finish the bankruptcy process. However, if they fail to complete the process, the Judgment becomes enforceable again.
There is never a guarantee that a creditor will collect the Judgment, in whole or in part, from the debtor.