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When Someone Owes you Money.

It could’ve been a tenant who owed you, his or her landlord, $7,200.00 for six months back rent. Or it might have been an automobile repair garage that you sued and ultimately recovered $9,500.00 against for destroying your beloved car. Another possibility is that you recovered a sizable personal injury judgment, let’s say $30,000.00, from the uninsured driver that struck you.

Sure, you deserved that hard-fought recovery! But guess what? The court order setting forth your monetary judgment of $7,000, $9,000 0r $30,000 doesn’t function like a debit card or money order! You need to actually collect on this judgment from the defendant party, and often times the debtor-defendant may fail to pay within the time prescribed by the Court.

Don’t worry just yet; you have options…

A variety of postjudgment legal tools are available to creditor-plaintiffs with valid court-ordered judgments in New Jersey.

These steps include, but are by no means limited to:

  1. Docketing your judgment with the Superior Court’s clerk in Trenton, an action which creates a judgment lien on real estate that lasts twenty (20) years without being renewed;
  2. Filing an “Ex Parte” petition requesting additional discovery with the court;
  3. Serving the debtor-defendant with an information subpoena seeking to uncover personal, professional, and financial information that could prove vital to your ability to recover;
  4. Filing a motion to compel answers to an unanswered information subpoena, an application which raises the possibility of a bench warrant and attorney fees against the debtor-defendant if he or she fails to comply, and
  5. Seeking a wage execution against the debtor-defendant’s paycheck, something that can be sought from the court responsibile for the original judgment.

But be forewarned: the collections process can take awhile. There’s also no absolute guarantee of recovery. Debtors are affored significant protections until state and federal law. Most notably, if the debtor-defendant in your particular case files for bankruptcy, then bothyou and your attorney are immediately estopped from all efforts to collect upon the debt owed to you pursuant to 11 U.S.C Section 362 of the U.S. Bankruptcy code. This “automatic stay” could be a temporary delay; it could also precede the ultimate demise of your judgment during the bankruptcy process.

The New Jersey collections process can be a complicated due to the large number of steps involved and possible time investment. If you or someone you know needs help in collecting upon a court-ordered monetary judgment, contact online the collections attorneys at DeMichele & DeMichele.  Your confidential initial consultation is only a phone call away at (856) 546-1350.


Post Author: Matt Rooney

is a New Jersey attorney, former Superior Court law clerk, and noted commentator who focuses his practice on family law, municipal court defense, and personal injury matters. He was recognized by SJ Magazine as a 2018 “Top Divorce & Family Attorney."