Someone owes me money, how do I get it? part 3 — collecting the debt

Once the court has granted you a judgment, you now need to collect on that debt.  You and the debtor may be able to come to an agreement about payment, which will be the easiest way to get your money.

You may want to hire a ‘debt collector’ who will handle this part for you and who will know the laws and follow the rules of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).

Another option is to collect the debt yourself.  As long as you are collecting a debt that is owed to you personally and you are doing things yourself, using your own name, you are not bound by the rules of the FDCPA.  However, even if you don’t need to follow all of the rules, you might want to consider reading over the FDCPA rules on what can and can’t be done to collect a debt or you might find yourself in front of the judge on a harassment charge.

You might be able to get a court order to tell a third party that they need to give you some money that would normally be given to the debtor.  This process is called a ‘garnishment’ and there are rules about how much of the debtor’s funds may be given to you.

The most common type of garnishment is when a debtor garnishes the wages of the debtor and a portion of the debtor’s wages are paid to the creditor instead.  There are rules about garnishment of wages and limits on how much of a person’s wages can be withheld.

You might also be able to garnish the funds in the debtor’s bank account.   Again, there are special rules about what can be garnished.

You may also be able to force the debtor to give you some of his or her personal property to satisfy the debt.  This process is started by filing ‘Debtor’s Interrogatories’ which is a process in which the debtor needs to appear and tell you about the assets he or she owns, where those assets are located, and how much each of those assets are worth.  Sometimes these are ‘big’ assets like a house or a car, and sometimes these are smaller assets like a TV or a watch or a ring.

Once you know what assets are available, you can ask the court to have the sheriff seize and sell the assets and give you the money from the sale.

Or, you might be able to put a lien on the asset which means that if the asset is ever sold, you will be paid before the debtor receives his money from the sale.  Of course, this works best for assets like a home or a car where you have the ability to record your lien and where the record is reviewed before the sale is completed.

If you have any questions about this or any other legal subject, please feel free to give us a call at 757-234-4650 or visit our website at http://www.BeaversLaw.com.

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