judgment debt

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When a person against whom a monetary judgment has been entered, the person owes a judgment debt. This party will be a judgment debtor. The party who the judgment debtor owes money to is the judgment creditor. The judgment creditor has the right to collect the judgment debt. If the judgment debtor fails to pay for the debt, the judgment creditor can enforce the judgment.

Usually, there’s no waiting period after the judgment is final, which means the judgment creditor can start collecting the judgment debt right after the finalizing of the judgment. The creditor can contact the debtor to collect the judgment debt. If the debtor cannot afford to pay the full amount of the judgment, the creditor sometimes would accept an installment payment plan from the debtor. Sometime, the creditor may even accept a smaller amount than the judgment debt as full payment.

If the judgment debtor fails to pay the judgment debt, the judgment creditor can contact an enforcement officer of the court to enforce the judgment. Usually, this officer will be a county sheriff. After obtaining an order from the court, the sheriff can take money or property from the judgment debtor to pay for the debt. For example, the sheriff can have the debtor’s bank account, vehicle, or even wage be garnished.

Different states have different procedure for the judgment debt collection. See this document for the collecting procedure of California, and this website for the collection procedure in New York.

[Last updated in June of 2020 by the Wex Definitions Team]