Collecting on a Judgment in New York: Important Steps You Can Take to Get What’s Owed to You

If you won a civil case and a judgment has been entered by a court against the defendant, you can collect your judgment money. Unfortunately, the process is often challenging. As a judgment creditor, it is your responsibility to collect from your judgment debtor. If the latter does not voluntarily pay your judgment, you can choose to execute the judgment to collect the money owed to you. You can collect a judgment from the wages, bank account, cash box, or real property of the debtor. For this to happen, you must prepare and file some forms with the court clerk. Once you have approval for the judgment execution, give the document to a sheriff. If you are a judgment creditor and want to collect on a judgment in New York you won, here are the steps you can take:

Determine the Debtor’s Asset or Funds You Wish to Collect

Decide which money or property of the debtor you will instruct the sheriff to take. You cannot collect some kinds of money and property. Often, these are income or assets related to the basic needs of the debtor such as social security benefits, unemployment benefits, household goods, clothing, and others.  The types of assets you may be able to collect include the following:

  •  Wages. You can obtain a court order known as a Write of Garnishment to get a portion of your judgment debtor’s wages. For this, you need to know the employer’s name and address.
  •  Bank accounts and cash. To collect on a judgment, you can also attach money to your debtor’s bank account. Make sure to get information such as the bank name, address, and account number of your debtor.
  • Real property. If your debtor owns a house or other real estate, record the judgment as a lien as their property. You should get a certified copy of the judgment and record it with the recorder’s office. The lien continues for ten years and you can request a renewal of this lien.

Prepare the Necessary Paperwork

After determining which property or assets to execute the judgment against, prepare the Writ of Execution which authorizes the sheriff to take some property that belongs to your debtor. Then, you should also prepare the Notice of Execution that must be served to the debtor. If you plan to collect money from a third party such as when you garnish the debtor’s wages, you must prepare a Writ of Garnishment. Once the paperwork is ready, take it to the sheriff for service. 

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