Post Judgment Proceedings
So you have been successful in filing, prosecuting and trying your case. You have a money judgment against the defendant(s), and now you are looking to get paid on that judgment.
The first thing you must do is make sure that the judgment is in clear written form, preferably on a court order with a specific dollar amount and the correct parties listed.
Many times I’ve seen judgments entered in other cases where the judgment doesn’t have a specific dollar amount in it, where it fails to name all or some of the defendants that should have been named, and does not have the final and appealable language that is necessary to confirm a money judgement.
If you have a money judgment in the correct form, there are a number of steps you should take to preserve your ability to collect on that judgment.
1. Make sure the judgment is against the defendants you are suing.
For example, the judgment can be joint and several, meaning each individual defendant is responsible for the entire amount of the judgment even though there may be multiple defendants in the judgment order.
2. Keep in mind that any post judgment proceedings would not be limited to those defendants who are named.
In separate post-judgment service of documents, it is served either on the named defendants or third parties such as banks, insurance companies, and creditors.
3. Understand the steps and implications of the citation procedure.
The process for obtaining and collecting on your judgment is referred to as the citation procedure. During the citation process, the person being served must come to court and inform you of any and all assets or money that may be available to pay the judgment. It is important to understand that if a citation is served on a party, that party is prohibited from transferring or disposing of any assets that can be used to pay the judgment until the citation proceeding has been completed.
The effect of this can be quite persuasive. Under the law, the defendant who is served a citation cannot use any money that is in his checkbook, for example, to pay his electricity bill, put gas in his car or buy clothes because of the prohibition of the transfer of assets prior to the citation proceeding.
If a third party citation is served on a bank, for example, the bank has an obligation to hold those assets until the citation procedure has been completed. Again, this is going to have a very persuasive effect. The bank must freeze the checking account of the defendant for not only the amount of the judgment, but sometimes one and a half times the judgment so that the judgment creditor can have the opportunity to obtain a court order for those funds being held by the bank to satisfy the judgment.
4. If the defendant doesn’t cooperate, one option is to obtain a body attachment.
If a properly served citation is ignored, and the plaintiff goes through the steps of obtaining a body attachment, the defendant can actually be arrested and placed in jail for failing to come to the court to respond to a request for information regarding his assets.
5. Another option is to record the judgment with the recorder of the county in which the judgment debtor resides.
This is another available action to take if the defendant is not cooperating. Recording the judgment has the effect of making the judgment public record, which can affect a judgment debtor’s ability to obtain a mortgage, loan or job.
6. Know that judgments earn a 9% statutory simple interest until they are collected.
The final piece of good news for judgment creditors is that in the state of Illinois, there is a statutory simple interest of 9% on the judgment computed on an annual basis. Considering that there are very few investments that yield 9%, a judgement debtor’s tactic of ignoring the judgment or playing hide and seek with his assets can result in a significantly increased judgment the more time passes between the entry of the judgment and the collection of judgment.
For more information on collecting, satisfying or defending judgments, make sure that you obtain an attorney experienced in this field.