Although a case is decided in your favor, it is not always easy to collect a judgment. You cannot collect assets that a person or business does not have. The collection process will be worthwhile only if you can locate collectable assets. Judgments are enforceable for 10 years.
Conciliation Court is not a collection agency and cannot assist you in locating assets of the other party. You can, however, try to collect the judgment yourself if it has not been paid by the date indicated on the judgment notice, and if an appeal has not been filed. Here are a few tips on how you can locate the debtor and / or their assets:
- You may be able to locate the debtor's bank by looking at any canceled checks that the debtor may have written to you.
- You can find out whether the debtor has a motor vehicle registered under his / her name, or the name of the lender that the debtor(s) are doing business with, by going to the Minnesota Driver and Vehicle Services Office.
If you (judgment creditor) received a judgment and the other party (judgment debtor) does not appeal or voluntarily pay, you may begin the collection process and choose to have the judgment enforced. You may have to pay additional fees. These will be added to the judgment and will be collected from the judgment debtor if assets are found.
You may begin the collection process by following these steps:
- Go to the Courthouse, a forms company, or go online to obtain an Affidavit of Identification of Judgment Debtor(s), to transcribe your judgment to District Court.
- Upon completion of the Affidavit, submit it to the Court Administrator's Office, along with the required filing fee.
- Checks should be made out to the "Court Administrator."
- Your judgment will then be transcribed to District Court.
- You may wish to file a lien against real estate that the debtor owns by contacting the County Recorder of the county where the real estate is located.
- A judgment also affects the debtor's credit rating.
- The judgment may be enforced for up to 10 years from the date of the original Conciliation Court judgment.
- If the judgment is for property damage sustained in an auto accident with an uninsured driver, you may wish to ask the Commissioner of Public Safety to suspend the driving privileges of the driver.
- There is a fee for the certified copy that must be sent to the Department of Public Safety to suspend driving privileges.
- If you do not know where the debtor works or banks, you may file a Request for Order for Disclosure.
- There is a filing fee for each involved debtor's name.
- You must wait 30 days after completing step 1.
- The Court Administration Office will then issue an Order for Disclosure Form and mail it to the debtor, along with a Financial Disclosure Form.
- The order requires the debtor to complete this form and disclose all non-exempt property and financial information to you within 10 days upon receipt and forward it to you.
- It is your responsibility to supply the court with a current address for the debtor.
If a completed Financial Disclosure Form is received from the debtor, you can then decide what options are available for collections.
Failure to Respond
If no answer is received (the debtor fails to respond), you can complete an Affidavit in Support of an Order to Show Cause and schedule a court hearing before a judge and will require the judgment debtor to appear in court and explain why the Order for Disclosure was disobeyed. There is a filing fee for each involved debtor's name.
When the hearing is scheduled, the Court Administrator's Office will then issue an Order to Show Cause. It is your responsibility to have the debtor(s) served with the order. The Sheriff or any party who has no financial interest in the judgment can serve this order. It must be served on the debtor personally. It cannot be left at his / her residence with anyone else.
Order to Show Cause
The Order to Show Cause requires the debtor as well as the creditor to appear at the court hearing. At the hearing, the debtor will be instructed to complete the Financial Disclosure Form or give the judge a valid reason for not doing so. If the debtor fails to appear at this hearing, the judge may issue an Order for a Writ of Attachment. When the Writ of Attachment is issued, you will be required to furnish the debtor's full name and date of birth to the court.
- If you wish to have the cost of collection added to your judgment after an unsuccessful attempt to collect, you may need to file a notarized affidavit stating the costs and requesting those costs be added to your judgment.
- Please attach a copy of your receipt from the Sheriff to your affidavit.
- Order a Writ of Execution if you know where the debtor banks or where the debtor works.
- There will be a fee charged for the Writ.
- If you do not know either of these you are not ready for an Execution.
- The Execution must be issued to the county where the bank or the employer is located.
- The Court Administrator's Office will mail the Execution to you and you are to take it to the Sheriff of that county for service.
- The sheriff will charge a fee.
- If the debtor pays the judgment in full it is your obligation to provide the debtor with a Satisfaction of Judgment (MSA 548.15).
- This form can be obtained on the state website, or at any legal stationery store.
- A satisfaction of judgment must be filed with the court and a filing fee must be paid.
- This must be done within 10 days if paid in cash, or within 30 days otherwise.
Unsuccessful Collection Attempt
If the sheriff or attorney is unable to collect, or if you have determined that there are no assets on which you can collect, it does not mean you will never collect your judgment. A judgment in conciliation court is valid for 10 years and may be executed on at any time during those 10 years. This is important because the debtor may, at some future time, have collectable assets. The fact that an unpaid judgment may affect the debtor's credit rating could result in voluntary payment at a later time.