Here Are Options and Considerations
Video Transcript: So you got your judgment and now you want to collect it. How do you do that? My name is Brian L. Jackson. I’m a Oklahoma lawyer with the Wirth Law Office, and we’re going to talk about collecting on judgments.
There’s a couple of tools that the statutes allow for and you can use all or some or whatever you feel is appropriate. Usually a good starting place for collecting a judgment is you file to set up an asset hearing and get the person served. Now, what an asset hearing basically is, is you can compel the person to come to court and you get to ask them a whole bunch of questions about where they work, where they bank, what do they own, what is their monthly income, what are their monthly bills, and all of that stuff with the idea of getting at potential resources to pay back that judgment.
Now, one of the interesting things about asset hearings is that although you cannot, under most circumstances, throw somebody in jail in Oklahoma for bad debt, the only major exceptions to that are child support, alimony and anything to do with like a marital property settlement and then criminal fines. But if it’s just normal bad debt, you can’t generally throw them in jail. But if you do an asset hearing and they fail will appear, you can get a body attachment and they’ll be jailed until you can be brought to court to do an asset hearing.
Now, once you’ve done the asset hearing and you figured out where they bank, what they own, where they work, one tool you can bring to bear is what’s called a garnishment. Garnishment basically is literally going, reaching out and seizing money out of their bank account, attaching part of their paycheck, things like that. You can get the court to order them to turn over their tax return, any money they get back on their tax return.
Another tool that’s available for larger debts, or if you want to get aggressive is you can file liens against property. Now, one thing you can do is file a judgment in the county clerk’s office, and that would create an in persona lien. That is, it’s a lien against the person, which means that anything that person owns is attached.
Now, unfortunately, from a creditor’s standpoint, Oklahoma is very debtor friendly. We have pretty good carve outs protecting personal property and real property from execution under bad debt, but to the extent that the person has assets that are outside of those exemptions, once you attach a lien, you can foreclose the lien in court, which means you’re basically enforcing that lien and asking the court to order that whatever that asset is be sold and you get the proceeds. That is a procedure you can do, and with larger debts, that may be a good option, especially if you’re dealing with somebody who owes you money and they have land. You can put liens against the real property and if it doesn’t come in into homestead exemptions or some other kind of exemption, then you can compel a sale of the land and you get your debt will attach to the proceeds of that sale, and you will get paid out of those proceeds.
The biggest downside of these things is that it is time consuming and sometimes it can take years to collect a bad debt. And unfortunately, again, if you want to do this with a lawyer, you have to pay that lawyer. Now, all of these are situations where you can recover at least some of your attorney fees expended in collecting the judgment.
But as I say, the downside is it is a hassle and if you are trying to collect a bad debt of any significant amount, you really do need good counsel, especially if you’re thinking about doing something like an execution. And one place you can find good Tulsa debt attorney is at makelaweasy.com.