Ogden Utah's top collections firm.When a party wins a lawsuit and there are monetary damages, the prevailing party is awarded a judgment for the dollar amount owed. However, this is rarely the end of the road for the judgment creditor. If the debtor does not voluntarily pay the judgment amount, it is up to the creditor to enforce the judgment. In upcoming blog entries I will be discussing in detail the options set out below. There are a number of avenues available to enforce a judgment under Utah law and the best solution depends on the situation of your case. Our team in Ogden Utah has years of experience in collections and will get results.
Writs of Garnishment The most commonly used method to enforce a judgment is a wage garnishment. In Utah, a wage garnishment (known as a “Writ of Continuing Garnishment”) is an order given directly to the debtor’s employer ordering the withholding of earnings. The amount withheld will depend on the amount the defendant is earning and whether there are other garnishments in place. It is also possible to obtain a non-wage writ of garnishment which can be given to third parties holding money for, or owing money to, the judgment debtor (such as banks or contractors). Writs of Execution Another common remedy for judgment creditors is a Writ of Execution. A Writ of Execution allows the sheriff or a court constable to seize assets of the judgment debtor. As I will discuss in a later post, Utah law names property that is exempt from execution and cannot be seized. We can search for these not only in Ogden, but across the whole state of Utah. Because of the exemptions available to the debtor, it is wise to determine if the judgment debtor has enough non-exempt assets to justify the cost of obtaining and enforcing a Writ of Execution. Judgment Liens If the judgment debtor owns real property, a Judgment Lien can be recorded against the property in the county in which it is situated. Once a lien is recorded, the creditor can wait for the property to be sold or can initiate a foreclosure on the lien. Because of the relatively low cost of recording a lien, you should always take this course where available. A more detailed description of the judgment lien process will appear in a later blog entry. Collecting Against Business Interests If the judgment debtor owns a business, Utah allows for orders requiring the debtor’s share of the profits or dividends to be turned over to the judgment creditor. These remedies are not as straight forward as a garnishment and the type of order needed varies depending on the business type. Watch for a future blog post regarding how to collect against a debtor’s interest in a business entity. Finally, there are some important things to keep in mind when seeking to enforce a judgment. First, under Utah law, a judgment is good for a total of eight (8) years. A judgment can be renewed for an additional fee. Second, judgments obtained outside the state of Utah will have to be “abstracted” to a Utah court before the applying for any of the writs or orders mentioned above. Finally, bankruptcy can significantly affect your rights as judgment creditor and will, in most cases, prevent you from performing any collection activity outside the bankruptcy case. A separate post regarding creditor rights and options during a bankruptcy will be forthcoming.