Congratulations! You just won a civil judgment, but we cannot celebrate yet because your job is not done and there are more steps that you have to take. Not sure where to start? Read on as we discuss what to do after obtaining a civil judgment.
What is a Civil Judgment?
When you receive a judgment, it establishes your right to collect payment. It is a document signed by the judge that tells you how much you can collect and from whom. According to Rule 58 of the NC Rules of Civil Procedure, you have five days to serve the judgment on the opposing party under Rule 5. If the opposing party does not directly pay to satisfy the judgment, they have thirty (30) days from the date of service to appeal the judgment. You won’t be able to collect anything during that appeal period.
Notice of Right to Have Exemptions Designated
While waiting for a response, if you would like to start the process of enforcing the judgment, you may prepare some additional paperwork that is required for enforcing a judgment.
One of the forms is you must file and serve on the defendant is a Notice of Right to Have Exemptions Designated. This notice lets the opposing party, or Judgment Debtor, know their rights regarding the exemptions of certain property or the prevention of certain property from being taken away. The notice must be served with a Motion to Claim Exempt Property form using Rule 4 of the NC Rules of Civil Procedure, which gives Defendant a chance to claim that some of his or her property are not subject to your order.
The General Statutes have established certain rules that allow a Defendant who becomes a Judgement Debtor to keep at least so many dollars and some equity in real estate and in a car. Please contact us for exact numbers. Once these documents are served, the Judgment Debtor has twenty (20) days to respond or they lose their rights to statutory exemptions. If they fail to respond at all, this means, you, as the Judgment Creditor, may be able to take any or all the Judgement Debtor’s property to satisfy the judgment.
Writ of Execution
Once the statutory exemptions have been finalized, waived, or determined to be inapplicable, you can request a Writ of Execution from the Court (the request must be made in the county that the Judgment Debtor’s property is located). Writ of Executions are enforceable for up to ninety (90) days from the date of its issuance and directs the county Sheriff to search for assets owned by the Judgment Debtor.
If the Sheriff locates non-exempt property, it can be seized and sold at an auction with the net proceeds paid to you to satisfy your judgment either in part or in whole. If you send a Sheriff to collect property without telling them exactly what you can collect, you may be surprised to find that they come back with nothing.
Determining the assets of a Judgment Debtor should have been done during litigation if you planned ahead. After the case is over, this process takes time and additional legal proceedings, which we can help you navigate.
If the Sheriff is unable to locate property, there are other supplemental proceedings that can include having the Judgment Debtor respond to written interrogatories or participate in a deposition about assets and their locations (both of which are under oath). Another option would be to obtain additional court orders that direct your judgment debtor or other parties who are in possession of your debtor's property to surrender that property to you.
There are some other options to ensure your civil judgment is satisfied and if you are interested in taking additional steps, please do not hesitate to reach out to discuss the specifics of your situation. Our civil attornies in Raleigh, NC are here to help Feel free to contact our office to schedule a consultation.