What Does a “Judgment” Really Mean?- by NEIL SISKIND, ESQ.

I probably get 15 emails a week- from judgment debtors or creditors- asking how to deal with a judgment. Here are the important basics I provide:

If you’re a “judgment creditor”, a judgment entitles you to reach income and/or assets of a debtor, company assets (business debtor), salaries (individual debtor), bank accounts, and real property, to pay the monies due. There are detailed procedures that must be followed to secure the income and assets, and there are certain limitations on wage garnishment levels.

3 Biggest Points to Consider: (i) Make all efforts to collect “before” filing a lawsuit b/c a debtor may elect to put forth a defense, or the debtor may file bankruptcy if it has many debts or lawsuits, and then you likely won’t get paid, at all; (ii) follow proper income garnishment and asset seizure procedures post-judgment to help ensure success; (iii) if your debtor is a corporate entity, it could liquidate, with no way to pay debts- are you a secured party?

If you’re a “judgment debtor”, if you have income, or bank accounts, or own a home, all can be reached once a judgment is obtained.

3 Biggest Points to Consider: (i) Contact the creditor before a lawsuit is filed to try to settle for less or set a payment plan; (ii) retain an attorney if being threatened with legal action or if sued, or have a judgment on you, to negotiate with the creditor and to get settlements in an enforceable writing; (iii) consider how bankruptcy can discharge the judgment obligation.



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