Unfortunately, obtaining a judgment is not always the end of a plaintiff’s troubles if the judgment debtor is uncooperative or deliberately evasive. In such cases, enforcing the judgment can turn out to be a time consuming and expensive process of tracking down assets and attempting to collect what is rightfully yours. Working with an experienced Marlton collections lawyer familiar with judgment enforcement in New Jersey can save you a lot of time, money and frustration.
Traditional Enforcement Measures
The first step in judgment enforcement in New Jersey is obtaining a writ of execution which allows for the seizure of property to satisfy the judgment. This can include:
- Personal property such as cars and equipment
- Business interest such as stocks
- Rental income that the debtor may receive
- Money in bank accounts
Some assets are excluded by law from confiscation to pay a judgment. These are the following:
- Disability payments
- Workers’ Compensation and retirement benefits
- Insurance policies
- $1000 of personal property
A writ of execution is carried out by the sheriff or court officer. It falls to the judgment creditor to coordinate the seizure with the local sheriff’s office. For instance, the execution may require moving trucks and storage units, a locksmith or a property appraiser. Advance planning by an attorney can save the client the expense of an execution that is carried out poorly.
Another method of collection is asking the court for a wage execution or writ of garnishment. If granted, an employer is required to deduct part of the debtor’s wages from each paycheck to satisfy the judgment. In New Jersey, if the debtor earns $217.50 or more each week, up to 10 percent of those wages can be garnished.
When a debtor is not only recalcitrant, but attempting to conceal funds and assets, your attorney can use an information subpoena to gain information about the debtor’s income and income sources, their personal property, and if they own real estate or vehicles. Should the debtor refuse to answer, a request to the court can be made to open post judgment discovery. Here, the debtor or a third party may be forced to testify about his/her assets and income.
Any judgment obtained in New Jersey Superior Court automatically creates a judgment lien on a debtor’s property that holds for 20 years, even if the ownership of the property changes. This means that the debtor cannot sell or refinance the property without first satisfying the judgment lien and also applies to any jointly held properties. Judgments that were obtained in Special Civil Part (small claims court) must have the judgment recorded in the Office of the Superior Court Clerk in Trenton to create a lien on the debtor’s real estate. It is essential to have an attorney do this quickly so that your judgment lien is recorded before any other competing recorded judgments and you can recover payment first.
Marlton Collections Lawyers at McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. Counsel Clients on Judgment Enforcement
Call our Red Bank office at 732-842-6500, our Marlton office at 856-985-9800, our Newark office at 973-878-9040, or contact us at 888-396-0736 or online for a free consultation. We proudly serve clients throughout New Jersey, including those in Monmouth County, Camden County, Burlington County and in the communities of Marlton, Cherry Hill, Red Bank, and Middletown.