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How do I collect a money judgment after my divorce?

On Behalf of | Aug 16, 2018 | Divorce |

After a family law case has been completed in California and a judgment has been made that the former spouse must pay a money judgment, many people are completely unaware of how to go about collecting it. There are many misconceptions as to what takes place at the end of a marriage and one that frequently arises and is the foundation for dispute is collecting this money from a judgment.

Often, the participants do not know that the court does not intervene in collecting it. It is the responsibility of the parties to settle it themselves. Understanding this and other aspects of collecting a family law money judgment is imperative to a case. There are certain circumstances that must be in place for the former spouse who is owed money to begin collecting it immediately. First, the judgment must have been entered. Second, there cannot be a suspension or postponement (a stay) on enforcing the order from an appeal, a bankruptcy stay, or any other legal action.

When seeking to collect, the person should consider doing the following: provide the former spouse with an address where the payment can be mailed. It is up to the receiving spouse to determine how best to collect the money. For example, an offer can be made to reduce the amount owed if it is paid as soon as possible. Another option is to receive payments regularly. Should the receiving spouse say that he or she will take less, they cannot get the remainder of the money they would have been paid had they waited for the entire sum. Should the payment not be made on the date entered by the court, the receiving spouse can write a letter to the former spouse as a reminder. More drastic action can be taken under the law should it not be paid.

Some might feel justified in using illegal tactics to get the payments, but this is unwise as it can cause major problems in the case. For example, the receiving spouse should not lie, commit harassment, request information from others regarding the debtor’s location, or call the debtor at unreasonable hours at inconvenient locations. To adhere to the law and take all the necessary steps to receive the money judgment, the person is advised to discuss the case with a legal professional experienced in divorce and all its different aspects. This is a wise strategy when trying to collect the money judgment.


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John T. Chamberlin, Attorney at Law
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