By: Rick Davis
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How to Collect on an Unpaid Judgment
You went to court and obtained a judgment against a person that owes you money but you still haven’t received anything from the debtor. Why not? What do you need to do next? Despite popular belief, obtaining a judgment is not the end of the story when trying to collect from a debtor. The court has found that the debtor owes you the money but there is still nothing forcing the client to pay you the money awarded by the court. So what can you do?
The answer is to execute the judgment. The first step in executing a judgment is to schedule what is known as the “Hearing in Aid of Execution” or “Debtor’s Exam”. This hearing will take place at the courthouse and provides you with an opportunity to question the debtor about his or her assets, employment and financial situation so you can determine what execution methods are appropriate for the matter.
After the Hearing in Aid of Execution, you may proceed to garnish the debtor’s bank accounts or wages. The state of Kansas places limits on the amount that can be garnished out of an employee’s wages and the amount of time for which the garnishment can last. Certain income, such as disability or social security income, may be exempt from garnishment. If the debtor feels his or her income is exempt for garnishment, he or she will file an objection and a hearing will be held in which the court will determine if the income in question can be garnished.
In addition to garnishing wages or bank accounts, a party holding a judgment may also place liens on property owned by the debtor such as homes, vehicles or other personal property. However, if any other parties have liens against the property (such as mortgages on real property or loans on vehicles) those liens would have priority and you could only sell the property subject to the liens held by those parties.
The collection of a judgment is a fairly straightforward process, but the use of a skilled collection attorney will ensure the right collection methods are utilized to ensure you receive the most compensation. Most attorneys handling collection matters will do so on a contingency basis where in they are paid only a portion of the money collected and receive no compensation if they are unable to recover from the debtor.
If you would like to discuss how to collect unpaid debts from a customer of your business, please give us a call at 913-210-1847 .