Why Collecting Judgments Often Takes Years
Google the phrase ‘how to collect a judgment’ and you’ll end up with no shortage of results. Many of the articles explaining judgment collection make it sound so easy. Yet actual collection is anything but. It is a complicated process that often takes years to complete. Yes, you read that correctly. It can take several years for a judgment creditor to actually collect.
Collection is sometimes referred to in legal circles as ‘enforcement’. This is because courts enter judgments as a result of civil trials. But once a judgment is entered, the court’s involvement pretty much comes to an end. The terms of that judgment must be enforced by the winning party. Therein lies the big problem.
Judgments Are Often Complicated
Despite winning their cases, judgment creditors face difficulty from the get-go. They usually learn very quickly just how complicated their judgments are. A typical judgment goes far beyond simply stating that the creditor won. It also stipulates financial awards, who pays legal costs, and so forth. Judgments often contain clauses that influence enforcement in one way or another.
The details of how a judgment is structured have implications for how quickly collection can be pursued. Unfortunately, the details sometimes seem to favor the debtor more than the creditor.
Legal Processes Take Time
Creditors new to the judgment game also learn pretty quickly that enforcement is a legal process. Not only that, but all the individual tasks that go into collection also invoke additional processes that take time. Obtaining basic contact, address, and employment information is a prime example.
Most states do not allow judgment creditors to begin obtaining that information for at least 30 days after a judgment is entered. During that time, the judgment debtor has an opportunity to appeal. Once information gathering begins, the creditor may request information and then be forced to wait 7-10 days for a response. That is if any response comes at all.
Every step taken by a creditor has certain time constraints involved. Even when debtors fully cooperate, things work slowly in the legal system. When they do not cooperate, collection stretches on and on.
Some Debtors Try to Hide
Judgment Collectors, out of Salt Lake City, UT, says the biggest reason collection drags on for years is that debtors try to hide. Judgment debtors are a grade above general deadbeats whose debts are sold to collection agencies. Judgment debtors have avoided payment long enough to wind up in court. Few of them whip out the checkbook and pay their debts as soon as the judge’s gavel falls.
The most experienced among them know enough to move and not leave a forwarding address. Some go to the extent of moving out of state and starting over. Experienced deadbeats also know to hide their assets from prying eyes. It is everything a debt collector can do to find property and other assets their targets refused to reveal voluntarily.
Collection Is a Long-Term Investment
The long and short of judgment collection is that it is not for the faint of heart. It requires a long-term investment of time, resources, and finances. For collection to take years is not out of the ordinary. That is why judgment collection companies like Judgment Collectors exist. They have the ability to stick with it no matter how long it takes. Their clients, not so much.
Collecting unpaid judgments is a time-consuming task. Between complicated judgments, a time-sensitive legal process, and debtors who actively evade collection agencies, there are a lot of factors working against judgment creditors. It is unfortunate, but that is the nature of the beast.