If you win a civil lawsuit, you can be deemed a judgement creditor. Judgements are enforceable for ten years. It can be renewed for another ten after than, but after the second renewal you’d have to wait an additional five years. The interest accrued can be added to the principal.
- Keep records of everything you do to collect the judgment.
- Make a copy of the judgment.
- Write down the debtor’s contact information and list of assets, unless the debtor sent you a Judgment Debtor’s Statement of Assets (Form SC-133) in which case you should find the assets listed there.
- Keep track of your expenses. Many collection expenses can be reimbursed (added to the judgment so you can collect them).
- To calculate interest on your judgment, keep a record of the date your judgment was entered. Usually this is the same date the court clerk mailed the Notice of Entry of Judgment (Small Claims) (Form SC-130 or Form SC-200). Also keep track of the dates of any partial payments made by the debtor. If the debtor does make a partial payment by check, make sure to make a note of the location of the bank branch and the account number.
Ask a lawyer or collection agency for help
You can ask a lawyer or collection agency to help you collect your judgment. But you may have to pay a percentage of the judgment in fees (some agencies charge only 15 percent or 20 percent). They may also ask you to assign the right to your judgment to them. Usually, a lawyer or collection agency will write letters to the debtor. They can also help locate the debtor’s assets. You can also do these things yourself.
Make sure you renew your judgment
Judgments are enforceable for 10 years and are renewable for another 10 years and then renewable after that. You must renew your judgment before it expires (runs out). For more information, read Renew Your Judgment.
Ask the court for help
If the debtor does not pay you, the court can also issue documents and make other orders allowing you to:
- Get information about the debtor’s assets;
- Collect from the debtor’s property (including wages, bank accounts, and real property);
- Collect from a retail business; and
- Suspend the debtor’s real estate, contractor’s, or driver’s license.