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Thursday, January 3, 2008

Collecting a Money Judgment -- Special Civil Part

Collecting a Money Judgment -- Special Civil Part

* Execution on Goods and Chattels (personal property)
* Bank Levy

* Execution Against Wages

* Writs of Execution

* Docketed Judgment

* Information Subpoena

* Court Order for Discovery

* Collecting and Out-of-State Judgment

* Settlement

How your attorney can attempt to force the deadbeat creditor to pay money owed!

If money is owed you because you have been awarded a judgment by the Superior Court or Special Civil Part, you are a judgment creditor. Attorneys usually work on an hourly basis- between $200 /hr and up. It is usually not cost effective to hire an attorney if the amount due is under $1,000.


An execution on goods and chattels lets the court try to collect the money owed on a judgment from the debtors bank account or personal property. (Real estate cannot be used to collect money owed in the Special Civil Part.) You must locate and identify the debtor's personal property that can be used to satisfy your judgment. Your attorney may, petition that a Court Officer try to sell personal items such as office equipment, etc., at a public sale. The debtor may keep $1,000.00 worth of personal property. If the debtor does not have $1,000.00 in personal property, this method cannot be used to satisfy your judgment and to collect the money owed you. Vehicles- If you ask that the Court Officer seize the debtor's motor vehicle, you must be able to show that the vehicle is registered in the name of the debtor. This is done by getting a certified copy of the title and a certified lien search from the New Jersey Division of Motor Vehicles. The Clerk or Court Officer will inform you of additional fees to advertise and sell the property when and if these events occur. A writ of execution is good for one year from the date it is issued, and can be renewed.


If you know or can find out where the debtor has a savings or checking account in New Jersey, your attorney may ask that a Court Officer collect your debit from the money in the account. You must provide the number of the bank, the address and the account number, if possible. Court Officers cannot search for bank accounts. After the money has been levied upon by the Court Officer, it is considered frozen. Your attorney must then file a Motion to Turn Over Funds with the court and serve a copy upon the debtor and the bank. If the court grants the motion, the judge will sign the Order to Turn Over Funds that you submitted with your motion. This order will be delivered to the bank by the Court Officer.


An execution against a person's wages can be requested if the debtor works in New Jersey and earns more than $127.50 per week. To request a wage execution, your attorney or you must send a Notice of Application for Wage Execution to the debtor by regular and certified mail. A copy of the application and a statement of how you mailed the application to the debtor must be filed with the Office of the Clerk of the Special Civil Part. If the debtor objects to the wage execution, a hearing will be scheduled by the court. If the debtor does not object or the court does not allow the objection, an order for a wage execution will be issued and the wage execution will be delivered to the debtor's employer by the Court Officer. The employer will hold back a portion of the debtor's pay, in accordance with the Order for Wage Execution and will send this money to the Court Officer who will then send it to you.

Wage Execution- The court cannot levy on welfare benefits, Social Security benefits, SSI, veterans' benefits or unemployment benefits. Once you apply and the court issues a writ of execution on goods and chattels (personal property) or wages, it is assigned to a Special Civil Part Court Officer for collection. By law there is a 10% fee added to the amount of the judgment as the Court Officer's commission. This fee is listed on the writ and is payable to the Court Officer as the judgment is collected. The 10% is taken from the money collected by the Court Officer. Once a writ of execution is issued, the payments should be made directly to the Court Officer and not directly to you as the creditor. The Court Officer handles the bookkeeping, deducts the appropriate commission, and sends the balances to you. After a writ is returned by the Court Officer marked fully satisfied, the Clerk of the Court will enter the satisfaction in the record. In some instances, after a levy has been made by the Court Officer or contact has been made with the debtor, settlement discussions may occur between you and the debtor. In making a settlement with the debtor, remember that the Officer who has made a valid levy or has in some way helped produce payment by law receives the 10% commission on any amount paid. Any partial or full payment made directly to you is subject to the commission that must be paid to the Court Officer.


If you or a Court Officer cannot collect the money due you on the judgment, you may have the judgment from the Special Civil Part recorded by your attorney in the Superior Court Clerk's Office in Trenton. Once your judgment is recorded in the Superior Court, the debtor cannot sell with clear title any real estate owned in New Jersey until your debt is paid. Once docketed, future efforts to collect a judgment originally awarded in the Special Civil Part must be made through the Sheriff's Office in the county where the debtor's assets are located.


If you do not know where the judgment debtor has a savings or checking account, what personal property the debtor owns, or where the debtor works, your attorney may attempt to obtain asset information by use of an information subpoena. An information subpoena is a court paper containing questions about the debtor's assets. Your attorney will serve an original and one copy of an information subpoena upon the debtor either personally or by registered and certified mail, return receipt requested, and simultaneously by regular mail. You also must provide a postage paid, addressed envelope with the information subpoena. The debtor must answer and return the information subpoena within 14 days from the date on which it was served. An information subpoena cannot be served more than once in a six month period without approval of the court. If the debtor does not answer the information subpoena, he or she is subject to contempt sanctions enforceable by the court.


Another approach for seeking information about a debtor's assets is for your attorney to file with the court a petition stating the amount due on the judgment. The court issues an Order requiring the debtor or any person who has information about the debtor's assets to answer questions concerning these assets at a place and time specified in the court order. A person may be required to appear only once without another court order. Your attorney may serve a copy of the order for discovery upon the debtor or other person either personally or by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested and simultaneously by regular mail at least 10 days before the appearance date. If the debtor or person named in the court order does not comply with the court order and fails to appear at the specified time and place to provide information about the debtor's assets, he or she is subject to contempt sanctions enforceable by the court.

Court Rule 4:59 (e) Supplementary Proceedings. In aid of the judgment or execution, the judgment creditor or successor in interest appearing of record, may examine any person, including the judgment debtor, by proceeding as provided by these rules for the taking of depositions or the judgment creditor may proceed as provided by R. 6:7-2, except that service of an order for discovery or an information subpoena shall be made as prescribed by R. 1:5-2 for service on a party. The court may make any appropriate order in aid of execution. If the warrant for arrest is not executed within 24 months after the date of the entry of the order authorizing it, both the order and the warrant shall be deemed to have expired and to be of no further effect.


Article 4 of the United States Constitution provides that a judgment awarded in a court of one state is entitled to full faith and credit in the courts of another state. To give a judgment awarded in another state validity to be collected in New Jersey, another lawsuit must be started in the appropriate court in New Jersey. To attempt collection or enforcement of an out-of-state judgment where the amount due is within the monetary limits of the Special Civil Part, you must file a complaint with an exemplified copy of the out-of-state judgment attached with the Office of the Clerk in the county where the defendant lives or is located.


If a case is settled before trial, the plaintiff is responsible for filing a stipulation of dismissal with the Special Civil Part. If a judgment is paid, with or without the aid of a Court Officer, the plaintiff is responsible for filing a warrant of satisfaction with the Special Civil Part

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