If you recently watched the hit Netflix series “Tiger King,” you know that Carole Baskin spent a significant amount of time and money to collect the judgment she was awarded against Joe Exotic. How to collect a judgment is just one of the many of the important legal takeaways from this mesmerizing series. Clients often think that once they have won a case the game is over. Unfortunately, winning is often the easier part, and collecting your judgment is more difficult. So, what do you do after you win your case?
In Virginia, one of the first steps is to file what are called debtor interrogatories. This requires a separate hearing where the debtor/defendant has to appear in Court and answer certain questions under oath. At this hearing, you have the right to ask the debtor a range of questions about their personal and financial situation, including what property they own, what bank accounts they hold, and where they work. Once you have this information, the law provides a number of options to help you collect on your debt. For example, you could garnish wages or levy a bank account. These options require separate hearings.
What if the debtor is unemployed, or has insufficient funds to cover the judgment? In this type of situation, you could file what is called a writ of fieri facias, or a written order for a sheriff to go and levy on a debtor’s personal assets. The levy creates a lien on personal property, which can then be sold at auction. This can be an extremely effective tool. I had a case several years ago where I won a default judgment (meaning the defendant had never appeared in court) against a nursing home facility that had administered my client the wrong medication. The nursing home was silent every time I tried to reach out to them about the case. Finally, after the sheriff’s arrived at the facility to seize property, I got a quick phone call from general counsel, and the case was resolved within a week.
Beyond the processes described above, the law provides other alternatives for family law cases as well. For instance, a payor for child support payments could be jailed for non-payment. In addition, the law also permits (under certain circumstances) a creditor to seize on 401ks and retirement accounts in a situation where there’s back owed child support.
Need help collecting on a judgment or pursuing a case? Do what Carole Baskin would do and hire a great attorney. Please give us a call at 804-362-8903 or contact us by email. We are happy to speak with you by telephone or Zoom conference regarding your case.
This post is provided as an educational service and should not be construed as legal advice. Readers in need of assistance with a legal matter should retain the services of competent counsel.