Different Ways Judgment Debtors Can Slow-Walk Paying

Judgment Collectors

You are a small business owner thinking about taking a deadbeat customer to court. You feel you have no other choice. After all, the customer hasn’t been all that cooperative about paying his bill. Just know this: even if you win a judgment against the customer, he may continue to slow-walk payment. In fact, the chances of him doing so are pretty good.

According to Utah-based Judgment Collectors, the majority of judgments rendered by U.S. courts are never collected. At least that is the case where monetary judgements are concerned. Judgment debtors have a habit of being uncooperative. And unless a judgment creditor is willing to pull out all the stops to collect, success can be fleeting.

Some debtors refuse to pay outright. They know they have the advantage. Others choose to slow-walk paying in hopes of the creditor giving up and walking away. Below are some of the more common tactics for slow walking. If you are getting ready to go to civil court for the first time, be prepared for them.

Appealing the Judgment

Right off the top, judgment debtors may choose to appeal the decisions entered against them. The good news is that most judgment appeals fail. Debtors need to have very good reasons for appealing to begin with, and judges rarely overturn judgments unless there is a compelling reason for doing so.

Nonetheless, appealing takes time. It gives a debtor more time to formulate other strategies. It is not unusual for a debtor to appeal for this reason alone, despite knowing that the appeal will fail.

Contesting Attachments

A judgment creditor may decide to attach the debtor’s wages or personal property. Wages can be attached by way of garnishment while personal property can be attached by way of judgment liens or outright seizure. Both types of attachments can be contested in court.

Most states have laws in place protecting the assets a debtor needs to cover basic living expenses. In a garnishment case, a creditor could only take a certain percentage of the debtor’s disposable income. Likewise, a debtor’s primary residence, clothing, tools of his trade, etc. could not be seized and sold.

Debtors can slow-walk payment by contesting every attachment. Even if doing so fails, the two parties need to go back to court. This takes more time. It also adds to the creditor’s expenses.

Providing False Information

Before a creditor ever gets to attaching wages or personal property, there needs to be a thorough assessment of the debtor’s assets. An assessment begins with solicitation of information from the debtor or his attorney. Here, slow walking takes the form of providing false information.

A debtor might list his employer on a questionnaire but give a false address and phone number. He might provide a false personal address. The debtor might also fail to disclose all his assets. The point of furnishing false or incomplete information is to make it more difficult for the creditor to learn everything necessary to determine how to proceed with collection efforts.

Whatever It Takes

Just like there are judgment creditors willing to do whatever it takes to collect, there are judgment debtors willing to do whatever it takes to avoid paying. Debtors slow-walk things at every stage of the process in order to discourage creditors. They know that if they hold on long enough, most creditors will simply give up.

Be prepared for some slow walking if you are planning to file a civil lawsuit against a customer. The fact that you need to go to court demonstrates your customer is either unwilling or legitimately unable to pay.

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