In part 1 and part 2 of this series, we discussed some of the basic requirements to file a successful suit to collect your debt and potential judgments that can be won. At this point in the debt collection lawsuit, you’ve got a judgment, but you still need to get paid. Here at Smiley Law Group we work with our clients to ensure they maximize their recovery in the collections enforcement process.
When you win a judgment as a creditor in Louisiana, you can make an ex parte motion to order the creditor to appear before the court. The motion orders them to appear not less than five days from the time the motion was served and bring any financial records listed in the motion. The debtor must then provide the creditor with a complete picture of their current financial capabilities while under oath. Unless the examination proves to have been unnecessary, the debtor will bear the costs of the examination and it will be added to the debt owed. This process is called the Judgment Debtor Examination.
Once it is determined the debtor has the capacity to enter repayment, the court will allow the creditor to begin garnishment. Louisiana has two types of garnishment:
- Wage garnishment – this is limited to 25% of the debtors disposable earnings and it is deducted directly from any employer that pays the debtor.
- Bank garnishment – this allows creditors to take a direct deposit from the debtor’s bank account, as long as the funds are not exempt under state or federal law. This is a shot in the dark, but it can be very effective.
Bank garnishment fees can run the creditor up to $500 in some jurisdictions.
Many attorneys win lawsuits for creditors, but then fail to collect. The judgment itself means very little unless followed up by immediate action to enforce it. Smiley Law Group has many years of experience in recovering favorable judgments for creditors and then getting them paid through proper enforcement means. We even get creditors that have come to us from other lawyers who secured a judgment for them but couldn’t collect.
Collecting from debtors, even when you have secured a judgment, presents complex challenges. With a final judgment in hand, you can garnish funds or wages and sometimes seize real estate and other assets from the debtor. You must file the appropriate garnishment documents and work with the sheriff to seize specific assets and collect wages. Knowing what documents to file, what assets to pursue, and how to navigate the garnishment process is essential to turning your judgment into real money.
Smiley Law has years of experience enforcing judgments for creditors. If you have a judgment against a debtor but have been unable to collect any money, schedule a consultation with one of our Louisiana commercial collections lawyers. Call today for a free consultation and let us put our experience to work for you.