Who can enforce my judgment?

This post is focused on answering the question of who can enforce my judgment. Not everyone has legal authority to enforce my judgment. I don’t want to mess up by letting someone work to enforce my judgment if they aren’t supposed to.

Generally the answer to this question is similar in most jurisdictions, but there are important differences in some states. Nobody wants to get in trouble with a judge. Obviously it pays to be clear about the state statutes where my judgment will be enforced.

Attorney:

It is legal for my attorney to pursue collecting my judgment for me. If I have an agreement for him do the enforcement work on contingency. I have seen lawyers charge anywhere upwards of 30% of the amount collected as their fee. They may add some additional fees or expenses to their charges. In my opinion, most attorneys prefer not to accept judgment enforcing on behalf of their client if they will be paid on a contingency.

More often an attorneys will want to be paid on an hourly basis if they are to attempt to collect a judgment for their clients. Unless my money judgment is for a fairly substantial amount, or the judgment debtor is very easy to collect from, it would cost me too much money to pay attorney rates for judgment enforcement. Rates vary from lawyer to lawyer but it is common to be charged anywhere from $100 to $500 per hour.

Most lawyers who specialize in litigation are more interested in working hard to win a law suit and secure a money judgment for their clients. From my experience I find very few attorneys who are as interested in collecting the money judgment unless it is a fairly easy one to collect.

Collection Agencies:

Generally collection agencies are limited in the enforcement tactics they can legally use in trying to collect my judgment. They are most often known for writing collection letters or calling them. They might threaten to put my judgment on the judgment debtor’s credit report. They are more limited in what collection and enforcement tools they can use compared to what my lawyer can use.

Judgment Assignees:

Most judgments in the United States can be assigned or sold to a third party for collection. People who purchase judgments are sometimes referred to as judgment enforcers or people in the business of judgment recovery. If for some reason I don’t want to do my own collection efforts, then a judgment enforcer might agree to take ownership of my judgment. The normal purchase price for a judgment is around 50% of what is collected. The problem is that once a judgment is assigned to someone else, I don’t own it any more. I have absolutely no say so about it. If the person I sell my judgment to is not successful for whatever reason, I may not have any recourse in the matter. There are a number of very qualified and successful judgment enforcers in this country. Some of them do great work which leads to many happy law suit winners finally getting paid. It is difficult to know in advance whether or not a particular judgment enforcer is going to do a good job so that we both can make some money.

Myself:

Nobody is likely to be as interested in the outcome of collecting my judgment as I am. I trust me more than I trust anyone else when it comes to enforcing my judgment. If I can be successful collecting my own judgment, I won’t have to share any of the money I collect with someone else. I prefer to handle enforcement on my own.

Finally:

There are a number good and legitimate reasons for a person to use an attorney or judgment enforcer to collect a judgment. I want to make sure that my judgment is being enforced by someone who has a legal right to do so. It is good to know that I have options. I know who can enforce my judgment. One thing is for sure, I always expect my choice to lead to satisfaction for me and money in my hand.

 
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