Congratulations! You won your civil lawsuit and have a judgment, but now what?
Winning in court is only half the battle as collecting on a judgment is an entirely different legal proceeding. When you obtain a judgment from a person or business, you become a judgment creditor and the opposing party becomes a judgment debtor.
It is the judgment creditor’s job, not the court, to collect its judgment. Meaning, if the judgment debtor does not satisfy the judgment, a Judge cannot punish the judgment debtor.
So how does a judgment creditor collect on a judgment? Follow the 5 rules below to begin collecting on your civil lawsuit judgment.
1. Know the Process
A judgment creditor needs to know the process when collecting on a judgment. Chapter 1 and 1C of the North Carolina General Statues lays out all relevant deadlines, time frames, and requirements that a judgment creditor and debtor must follow. If you miss a deadline or fail to perform a requirement, then it could lead to you losing some rights as a judgment creditor.
2. Know Your Rights
A judgment creditor has access to many different supplemental proceedings. Supplemental proceedings are proceedings that occur after a judgment is entered. However, judgment collection is really its own beast, and there are a few questions you’ll have to navigate.
Does your debtor have a business; if so, then consider a charging order? Want to learn more about the judgment’s debtor’s property? Then you can serve debtor’s interrogatories or set a debtor’s examination. Knowing your rights allows you to take total advantage of the collection process.
3. Start Doing Research
A judgment creditor may sell some real and personal property of the judgment debtor to satisfy the judgment. Pursuant to Article 16 of Chapter 1C of the North Carolina General Statutes, a judgment debtor can claim some property exempt.
Property not exempt, may be up for grabs by the judgment creditor. This means doing extensive research on what property the judgment debtor owns and where that property is located. The more you know about the judgment debtor, the better your chances are for collecting on your judgment.
4. Be Dedicated
Collecting on a judgment is all about dedication. A judgment debtor may just pay the judgment, but this is hardly ever the case. A judgment creditor is most likely to be successful on collecting on a judgment if the judgment creditor follows the process, performs supplemental proceedings, and researches the judgment debtor’s property.
In addition, the judgment creditor must have constant communication with the local Sheriff’s Department. The Sheriff’s Department assists a judgment creditor in collecting on a judgment. The Sheriff’s Department and the judgment creditor must work hand and hand in finding property or assets of the judgment debtors.
5. Be Prepared for the Long Haul
Collecting on a civil litigation judgment takes time and energy. In North Carolina, a judgment last for 10 years. A judgment creditor may renew the judgment one time, allowing 20 years to enforce the judgment.
In 20 years, the judgment debtor could obtain new property or even win the lottery. A judgment creditor should not give up if the first attempt to collect is not successful.
Now that you know these five main rules for collecting a judgment after you win a civil lawsuit, you know what needs to happen to get your money!