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Collecting Your Judgment

Congratulations on winning a judgment against your Defendant! Even in the glow of your victory, take note that winning a judgment doesn’t automatically mean you get a check. Getting the judgment, no matter how much work you or your attorney put into getting it, can be the first step to getting paid, or what is referred to as a “satisfaction” of the judgment.

If your Defendant pays immediately, great! The payment is made to the Court Clerk and then the funds are forwarded to you. The judgment is then deemed satisfied.money gavel

But what happens when the Defendant doesn’t pay the judgment?

Note, even though there is expense and time involved, you can pursue satisfaction through judgment collection. The Court may or may not grant you a judgment increase to cover your collection costs. Thus you must decide how far you are willing to go to collect your judgment. Depending on the size of the judgment, the size of the reward (the judgment) is worth the extra effort to collect.

An initial step towards satisfaction is garnishing the Judgment Debtor’s wages. In Tennessee, employers are required to garnish the Debtor’s wages or be responsible for the payment of the debt. A percentage of the Debtor’s wages is collected until the judgment debt is paid in full. It takes a while, but eventually, you will be paid in full – so long as they remain employed with that employer.

What if your Judgment Debtor is self-employed? You can still collect on your judgment but it will likely take more time and expense. Your Tennessee judgment will last ten years and can be revived to last even longer – so you’ve got time if you have the patience.

First, you need to do some reconnaissance and maybe post-judgment hearings to determine what property your Judgment Debtor owns. Maybe he owns real property and personal property like cars, A.T.V.s, motorcycles, a truck, video game, three large screen televisions and more.

Second, if the Judgment Debtor still refuses to pay, the County Sheriff can seize the personal property and sell it at auction to satisfy the judgment. If the proceeds are not enough to pay the judgment, a lien can be placed on the real property. That lien (the judgment) must be satisfied first or at the time of closing before the property can be sold. Ultimately, this means you finally get your money!

You may have a Judgment Debtor who is “judgment proof”. This means essentially they do not have an employer from whom you can seek garnishment and don’t have any real or personal property of value. If so, this may mean your judgment may be difficult to collect and will require a lot of patience.

So, while getting your judgment is the first step towards adding to your bank account and the process can take time, ultimately you can receive satisfaction in more ways than one!

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Collecting the Erin Andrews Judgment.

Erin Andrews got her judgment.  Now what? Often, getting the judgment is just the first step. Collecting the judgment is the real work. The below link is a great article to give you a quick overview of the collection issues represented in Ms. Andrew’s case.

A judgment has a 10-year life span in Tennessee and can be renewed indefinitely.  And that is good news because this could take a while.  There is still the possibility of appeal to reduce the judgment.  Even so, if the judgment stands and is recorded, Ms. Andrews has at least 40 more years (four judgment renewals) before the Judgment debtor Defendant  property could revert to Vanderbilt. If the judgment is kept alive, and something tells me it will be, it will be an encumbrance on the land until it is paid.  Ms. Andrews could be in for a long wait.  Perhaps her Attorneys who will finally get to deliver the big check to her may or may not yet be in elementary school.

Then again, as the author points out, this hotel is in a prime location.  With the speed of construction/renewal/growth/redevelopment Nashville enjoys, there could be a fairly quick turnover and a speedy payment….. with perhaps twenty new townhomes squeezed into the footprint the hotel currently occupies or maybe a new commercial tower to rival the batman building downtown.  Either way, Nashville’s growth could increase both its own and Ms. Andrew’s economy.

Erin Andrews Judgment May Not be Easy to Collect Against Hotel Defendants

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Dear Facebook. I want a divorce!

You may have started your relationship online but can you end it that way too? Yes, in New York, a woman served her soon-to-be former spouse with divorce papers via facebook.

facbook messages images

Here in Tennessee, one is typically “served” in person, through their attorney, or by leaving service of process with a person of suitable age and discretion who lives with the Defendant. Note that service of process procedures can and do differ by state. After all, one needs a head’s up if your spouse is divorcing you or you have some other pending legal action against you.

But what if you can’t find you former flame or even where they live? See the article below for a woman who found herself in this position for a number of years. The only thing she did know was that her husband regularly checked facebook.

Last year, a New York court allowed her to achieve service of process for a divorce by sending the documents via facebook. The social networking site even documents if the message was read and at what time. Imagine opening your facebook private messages to find you are being sued for divorce. It is taking “You got Served!” to a whole other (electronic) level.

Is service of process for a lawsuit by facebook the coming norm?

Unlikely. Service, even through a process server, is to ensure one has personal notice of a pending legal action. The key words here are “personal” and “notice”. Our system is designed to ensure you have adequate and proper notice of the legal action so that you can prepare a defense and/or otherwise address the issue at hand.

Again, in most cases and states, while this type of service won’t be accepted anytime soon, it is a little something for you to think about the next time you check your fb account….

 

See Washington Post Article here.

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Filed under Civil Procedure, Family Law, Service of Process