What Does It Mean to ‘Execute’ a Civil Judgment?

Utah-based Judgment Collectors

The decisions rendered by civil courts are not verdicts. Rather, they are judgments. And unlike guilty verdicts that lead to criminal sentencing, enforcing a judgment is generally left up to the parties involved. The winning party becomes the judgment creditor while the losing party becomes the judgment debtor. It is the creditor’s responsibility and right to execute the judgment.

What does this mean? Executing a judgment is the same thing as enforcing it. Courts prefer the term ‘execute’ because it implies following a step-by-step process as defined by state law. On the other hand, enforcement is a term that is more commonly used in criminal cases. Nonetheless, either term could be used in relation to collecting on a judgment and everyone involved would know what was being discussed.

Execution Is Involuntary Collection

Nearly all civil judgments have a monetary component to them. In certain cases, like debt collection lawsuits, getting paid is the goal. The monetary award is everything. A judgment creditor is forced to execute the judgment in question because the debtor has not been cooperative about paying. In essence, execution becomes involuntary collection at that point.

Involuntary collection is a matter of attaching an interest to the debtor’s income or property. This plays out in one of two ways. If income is attached, the creditor obtains an order of garnishment against the debtor’s wages, bank accounts, or both. If property is attached, the creditor is seeking a Writ of Seizure that allows the attached property to be seized and sold.

Following either course of action would be considered executing a judgment. There are other ways to collect that do not involve execution, however. One example is voluntarily entering a payment plan with the debtor. The debtor agrees to make monthly installments while the creditor agrees to suspend further collection efforts as long as the installments are forthcoming.

Execution Is Never Easy

Judgment creditors are sometimes hesitant to execute their judgments. The problem for them is that execution is never easy. It requires further legal wrangling and an additional time commitment. It also costs money. But if execution is the only way to get paid, that is the way it is.

Creditors can make things easier on themselves by turning collection efforts over to either an attorney or a collection agency that specializes in judgments. Going the attorney route is reasonable, especially if the same attorney who handled the civil case can also handle collection. Yet the one disadvantage of turning collection over to an attorney is that they have other things to do. Debt collection may not be a high priority.

On the other hand, a judgment collection agency like Utah-based Judgment Collectors doesn’t do anything else but collect bad debts. As for Judgment Collectors specifically, judgments are all they work on. They do not take general debt collection cases. They do not try to collect outstanding utility bills or car payments. They only work on collecting unpaid judgments.

Court Intervention Is Minimal

Judgment creditors eventually find out that court intervention is minimal when it comes to execution. If a creditor decides to attach income or property, the court will issue the proper order. In rare cases, a court might also issue a bench warrant for a debtor who fails to participate in post-judgment interrogatories. But for the most part, execution is left to the creditor.

Executing a civil judgment is essentially enforcing it. Where there’s money involved, execution is all about using every available tool to collect what is owed. It is never easy, and rarely leads to collecting 100% of the debt.

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