I have a civil litigation judgement, how do I collect on a judgement?

Jennifer L. Johnson, Crystal Lake Lawyer answers the question “I have a judgement, how do I collect on a judgement?”.

Jennifer L. Johnson: “The next topic that I’d like to talk about today is civil litigation. I do handle all types of litigation from trust probate litigation to collections to just contract disputes between parties. Also, lease litigation. After an eviction sometimes there an issue that comes up between a landlord and a tenant on a previous lease and I handle that as well.

One of the questions that I most frequently get on litigation is, “I have a judgment, how do I collect on a judgement?” One thing that I think is a big misconception among people is that if you see a case through, whether you do it on your own or you have an attorney that’s assisting you in obtaining the judgment, is a judgment’s basically a court order saying that somebody owes you money. It doesn’t mean that the judge is gonna require them to pay it back. It doesn’t mean that you can force them to pay it back, because if somebody really doesn’t have the assets, or the ability to pay, makes it very difficult obviously to collect on that judgment.

There are avenues for collection, however.

In the State of Illinois, some of those include a bank account garnishment, personal property levies, recording a judgment against real property that the party may own or the defendant may own.

One thing I would just ask that you keep in mind is, if you’re in a situation where somebody may owe you money or if you’re a landlord and you get a tenant, keep track of everything. Keep track of where they’re writing checks from and making payments from and things like that because that makes it, often times, a little bit easier when we try to collect on a judgment if we have that information.

In Illinois, if you have no information once you have a judgment, then you’re able to initiate a proceeding called a citation to discover assets to try to get information to find out where and how you can collect on any particular judgment. Also, keep in mind that in Illinois a judgment is good for 20 years. It has to be revived every seven years and that’s something that, again, we can assist you with, if you’ve got a judgment that’s nearing expiration and getting it revived and keeping it intact to collect on a judgement.

Illinois lawThe other thing I always like to make sure that clients understand is that when there is litigation and we’re filing suit, if we get to the point of having a judge decide the case, it’s in the judges hands, or the case may be in the jury’s hands. Litigation is risky. It can be costly and I think it’s important to remember that once … settlement is always, if it’s a possibility, it’s always a good avenue to explore. It alleviates cost and also, like I was saying, if it leaves our hands and goes to a judge or a jury, you never know what’s going to happen. You may feel that you have the best case in the world, but oftentimes a judge or a jury may disagree with you.

So, again, I think it’s important for parties to realize that if you’re undertaking litigation, it may be difficult to try to collect on a judgment, easy to get a judgment, difficult to collect on a judgment. You just need to be aware of the cost and the benefits and risks that are associated with litigation.

Jennifer L. Johnson can be reached at (815) 459-8800 ext 652 and [email protected]

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