4.1. Enforcement in debt
After the court enters a judgment order, our attorney records the judgment in the public record. The recording makes the judgment a lien against the debtor’s current or after-acquired property. Judgment liens will remain valid and enforceable from five to 25 years after the date of the entry, depending on the jurisdiction. Post-judgment interest accrues from the date the judgment is entered at the state’s statutory rate, if the court includes postjudgment interest in the judgment order.
Our attorney will engage in post-judgment discovery if the attachable assets of the judgment debtor cannot be located. Post-judgment discovery can include interrogatories, requests to produce financial documents, and depositions of the debtor’s principals, in order to learn the nature, extent, and locations of the debtor’s assets. If the debtor does not respond to post-judgment discovery requests, the court can issue a body attachment of the judgment debtor’s principals. If that becomes necessary, the principals will be held in jail until the debtor gives a sworn testimony in court about their assets.
4.2. Enforcement in movable property
The judgment must be served on the debtor through service of process, after which the court will enter a writ of execution. The writ of execution allows you as the judgment creditor, through the court and the local sheriff or bailiff, to garnish the debtor’s bank accounts, seize and sell their property, and in some states, place a keeper in the debtor’s business to seize all monies received on the days that the keeper is present.
All out-of-pocket costs to execute the judgment are chargeable to the judgment debtor. The costs may include garnishment fees, sheriffs’ or bailiffs’ fees, keepers’ fees, and any fees involved in seizing and selling the judgment debtor’s property.
4.3. Enforcement in immovable property
If the debtor owns real estate, it’s possible to receive a record of their claim in the land register and then, if attachable, force the attachment, the attachment and sale, or, in case there are tenants, the sequestration of the real estate by court order.
All of these processes are more expensive than the others and require patience. The record of the claim could take several weeks to one month, and afterwards, having the land or real estate from being ready for sequestration or sale to finally being sold could take several months to several years.
4.4. Expected time frame
Enforcement in movable property has a wide time frame. It could take four to six weeks to receive funds for the placement of a keeper, and up to six months or longer to seize and eventually sell any assets. This time frame will vary within the 50 states.
The time frame for enforcement in real estate is the most difficult to estimate. In most cases, there are other creditors, such as financial institutions, ahead of us. The most difficult phase of this process is finding a buyer willing to pay the market value of the real estate. In many cases, the property could go unsold for months, if not years.
(End of chapter 4 - Enforcement)