I hired a lawyer to sue two people owing me. They got a default judgement and told I needed a collection attorney to recover the debt. This was not made clear to me when I initially hired him. What is the best way to go about getting my money?
Most people are unaware that winning a suit does not automatically mean a payout. Once obtained, a judgment must then be enforced. In Texas, the judgment can only be enforced on non-exempt property and Texas allows a lot of exemptions. You can request an abstract of judgment and record it in the county records, which will create a lien on all non-exempt property. There is also an option to send the sheriff/constable with a writ of execution, but this is again limited to non-exempt property (and individuals, unlike businesses, often have none). You should discuss the particular facts with an attorney who can evaluate the best option in your case
You may never be able to collect. If your debtor was my client, this is the advice I would give:
Keep in mind that Texas is an extremely debtor friendly state. Nobody gets your house except the lender and the IRS. Nobody gets your car except the lender and the IRS. Nobody gets your wages except the IRS and child support. Nobody gets your Social Security/disability/ pension/retirement/401k/IRA except the IRS. Most people don't have any thing more than that, so there is nothing to get to satisfy a judgment. HOWEVER, a judgment is good for 10 years and can be renewed. Also, the judgment is accruing interest and is being reported to the credit bureaus. The creditor is hoping that one day you will have some money saved for a large credit-based purchase (car or house). When you apply for that loan, the judgment creditor will learn you have cash and will then try again to get you to pay. Luxury items such as motorcycles and boats and cash on deposit in banks are not protected. Even then it is possible to file bankruptcy to avoid payment.
Because a homestead can't be taken to satisfy a judgment unrelated to the mortgage or taxes, the judgment creditor must give a partial release with respect to the home if you request it in writing. This is necessary if you plan to buy, sell, refinance, or take a home equity loan. If the creditor will not release on request, there is a statutory process to go around the judgment lien. This does not mean you don't owe the money, just that the house can't be held hostage to the judgment.
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