How much do you know about civil court proceedings and judgments? If you are like most people, your knowledge is limited. You might not realize that a judgment is a court decision, for example. You also might not know that winning a judgment doesn’t bring your case to a close. It actually ushers in a whole new legal process dictating how enforcement proceeds.
In respect to civil judgments, enforcement is essentially collection. Courts enter judgments against one party and in favor of the other. Those judgments often include financial debts and expenses. But issuing the judgment is as far as a court goes. A court generally won’t get involved in collection efforts.
Despite the court’s lack of involvement, enforcement is still governed by a strict set of rules. Collection is a legal process as much as a financial one. That’s why it pays to hire an experienced judgment collection agency rather than trying to collect in-house.
There Are Timelines to Consider
Among the many hallmarks of the legal system are timelines and deadlines. Suffice it to say that there is no shortage of either one with respect to collecting judgments. From the very moment the judge’s gavel falls to bring a case to conclusion, the very first timeline event begins.
Most states require judgment creditors to wait a certain amount of time before they can begin gathering information from the debtor. On average, this is anywhere from 21-30 days, but it varies from one state to the next. Why the delay? To give the debtor time to decide whether to appeal.
As enforcement proceeds, you quickly discover just how many additional time-sensitive events come in to play. From information discovery to garnishment to placing liens on property, everything is governed by time in the legal system.
There Are Processes to Follow
Time-sensitive matters aside, judgment collectors are also forced to follow certain processes for just about everything. For example, it is expected that debtors will cooperate by providing personal, contact, and employment information to creditors. Any refusal to do so could result in the court scheduling a hearing and forcing the debtor to appear. A failure to appear could result in a bench warrant issued for the debtor’s arrest.
Here is the thing: you cannot jump from the end of the appeal period right to a bench warrant. You need to go through each step of the process in order to give the debtor every opportunity to cooperate. The bench warrant is a last resort option for compelling the debtor to provide the requested information.
There Are Laws to Follow
Rounding things out are the many laws that determine how creditors, collection agencies, and attorneys can go about securing payment. Federal and state laws work together to prevent creditors and their representatives from attempting to collect in ways that would be considered harassment. Creditors and their representatives need to be incredibly careful.
Likewise, states that allow garnishing wages and bank accounts tend to regulate garnishment somewhat differently. As a judgment collection agency, we couldn’t simply contact a debtor’s employer and request garnishment. The proper paperwork needs to be drawn up. It needs to be delivered to the debtor’s employer by the county sheriff.
Civil legation resulting in judgments is a defined legal process. So is judgment enforcement. A judgment in your favor might technically end the court case, but it opens up an entirely new legal process that governs exactly how you will go about collecting. If for no other reason, that should be motivation enough to let Judgment Collectors handle things on your behalf.