Regular readers of our blog know that states regulate civil judgments according to their own laws. We are active in six states including California, Washington, and Idaho. Needless to say, some of the laws in these other states vary quite a bit from the laws on collecting judgments in Utah.
It is important to understand the law before you attempt to collect a judgment in any state. The law tells you what you can and cannot do. Sometimes, the law even tells you what you should do – even though you may not be required to do that particular thing.
To illustrate all of this, here are four important things to know about collecting judgments in Utah:
The law requires creditors and debtors to verify their positions with records when there is a dispute over judgment collection. Records act as evidence. And because courts can only rule on evidence, they rely on records to make decisions. To that end, the Utah Courts webpage strongly urges creditors and debtors to keep meticulous records.
These records include receipts, checks, evidence of payments, and so forth. Utah Courts also reminds creditors and debtors that it is extremely hard to recreate a judgment’s history from memory. Don’t try to do it. Keep meticulous records.
Most states apply a statute of limitations to judgment collection. In other words, a creditor only has so much time to collect a judgment before it either expires or is renewed. The average amount of time in most states is somewhere between seven and ten years. In Utah, the statute of limitations on judgments is eight years.
Utah Courts urges creditors to renew their judgments before expiration. In cases when a renewal motion is filed prior to expiration, but the court doesn’t make its ruling until after expiration, the renewed judgment is given a date retroactive to the original judgment’s expiration. In other words, the new judgment is dated the first day following the expiration of the previous judgment. The creditor then has eight years from that date to collect.
The law in Utah allows creditors the opportunity to discover debtor assets following successful litigation. Creditors must get permission from the court to engage in discovery; rarely is such a request denied though. The two most common forms of discovery in the Beehive State are hearings and written interrogatories.
Practically speaking, discovery usually starts as a series of written questions the creditor requests be answered by the debtor. If circumstances warrant, a creditor can request the court order a hearing that compels the debtor to appear and answer questions about assets. Failure to appear could result in a bench warrant being issued against the debtor.
If a debtor makes no meaningful efforts to pay an outstanding judgment, there are provisions in Utah law that allow for the seizure and sale of certain debtor assets. Without getting into details, creditors can file for writs of garnishment, execution, replevin, and attachment. Each type of writ has its own conditions and idiosyncrasies. It is always up to the court to decide what to do with the writs.
In summary, Utah law is very specific about how judgments are obtained and how creditors can go about collecting on them. Not knowing the law puts a creditor at a disadvantage. However, ignorance of the law is a primary motivation for hiring Judgment Collectors. We make it our business to know the law and how to use it to the advantage of our clients.
Published August 9, 2022