After expending considerable time and energy, you have finally come to a resolution of your divorce. But you’re not finished yet.
If you have received a money judgment against your ex-spouse as part of your divorce decree, you still need to collect these funds, and you probably want to do it quickly and with as little expense as possible.
Here is a checklist of some effective methods of collecting money owed to you.
- PROVIDED A MAILING ADDRESS: While this may seem obvious, make sure you provide a permanent address where they can send the payment. You can also ask them to do a bank transfer and provide your bank information.
- BEEN ACCOMMODATING: If you can be flexible about payment terms, you may increase your probability of receiving payment. While your ex may fully intend to pay you, they may not have contemplated the reality of a strict, court-enforced payment schedule. If your divorce decree provides for regular payments, you can offer to accept less if they pay you immediately. You can offer to accept payments weekly or biweekly rather than monthly. If you opt to receive regular payments, setting up an automatic deposit can be convenient and offer some peace of mind.
- SENT A FOLLOW-UP LETTER: If your former spouse fails to pay by the court-ordered date, write a letter (or an email) reminding them that they owe you money. This letter should be assertive in tone and can detail some consequences of failing to pay the debt, including accumulation of interest and the negative effect on their credit rating. It can even go so far as to state that failure to pay may result in more serious action, including wage garnishment or levying of their bank accounts. It can make a big difference if an attorney sends this letter on your behalf.
- TRACKED ASSETS: After receiving a legal judgment that grants you payment, you (the “creditor”) can ask your former spouse (“debtor”) to appear in court to answer questions about their assets. If they fail to appear, the court may issue a warrant for their arrest. Detailing their assets can help you and your attorney determine next steps for collecting on those assets.
- OBTAINED A LIEN: If your ex is not complying with the court order and making payments, your attorney can work to obtain a lien on their property so that it can be used in collection proceedings. Once you’ve obtained the lien, you may get paid once they refinance or sell the property. Note that if the debtor owns property in more than one county, you need to record a judgment lien in every county where property is owned.
- COLLECTED DEBTOR’S WAGES (WAGE GARNISHMENT): You can garnish the debtor’s wages until you are paid what you are owed.
- COLLECTED MONEY FROM DEBTOR’S BANK ACCOUNT: You and your attorney can access the debtor’s bank account by asking the court to issue a Writ of Garnishment (https://bit.ly/2JBgj60). There are several required court forms that must be completed in order to complete a Writ of Garnishment. If you decide to take this enforcement route, you would be wise to retain a family law attorney as this process is intensive and requires legal expertise.
Sometimes, getting the judgment is only half the battle. In cases where your ex is hiding assets and/or refusing to pay, consider meeting with the experienced family law team at Robinson & Henry to help you with collection. To schedule an assessment to discuss your legal strategy session, call us at 303-688-0944.