Judgment Recovery Services - Does a Judgment Force the Debtor to Pay?

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    May 20, 2013
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Judgment Recovery Services - Does a Judgment Force the Debtor to Pay? Photo by Pat O Connor

No, the judgment in itself does not force the debtor to pay. However, the judgment can be used to make the debtor pay. Extracting money from the debtor generally requires knowledge of the debtor’s assets and the technical process to motivate the debtor to pay. The judgment from the court is just an official pronouncement or a decision based upon statutes and factual information and it does not compel a party to act.

Many deadbeat debtors will take extreme measures to avoid paying. They will ask for another copy of the invoice, ask how the invoice was calculated, ask for the invoice again, tell you they have already paid the invoice, tell you they should not have to pay because the service was not quite what they expected, tell you the product was defective or not exactly what they needed, tell you they will paid, tell you they are waiting on money owed to them and will then pay, and tell you they would really like to pay except…

The court judgment is a document rendering a decision on facts on law issued by a court. However, it is “just a piece of paper”. If you have to send the debtor multiple invoices, explanations of invoices and other documentation, why will one more piece of paper make them pay? In reality, it is estimated that 80% of court judgments are NEVER paid. 80%!

Some debtors either just currently do not have the money, or never had the intention of paying. For those that do not currently have the money, you may get them to pay with a payment plan. If the debtor does not want to set up a payment plan then most collection efforts resort to a plan of persistence in case the circumstances change. However, continually contacting the debtor by letter or phone is expensive. In practice, many judgment holders are worn down and give up. If they never planned to pay you, they never will pay you unless forced to do so.

In short, the court judgment is only one step in a multi-step process of getting the debtor to pay. If they have assets, it is generally possible to force them to pay. In some states (but not in Texas), you can garnish wages. In these states, it is easier to get debtors to pay. However, in any state, getting the court judgment is only the first step in getting your money.

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