Creditors unable to get debtors to pay their bills do not have a whole lot of options outside of professional debt collection and civil judgments. In terms of the latter, a civil judgment is essentially a recognition of a debt and the debtor’s obligation to pay it. Pursuing civil judgments has its pros and cons.
Judgment Collectors is a Utah collection agency based in Salt Lake City. They specialize exclusively in civil judgments, collecting on behalf of clients in six states. In the years they have been in business, they have seen just about everything. It has been their experience that not knowing the pros and cons of pursuing civil judgments can cause creditors more problems than they want.
Pro: Legal Recognition
A big advantage of getting a civil judgment is that it ends any and all disputes over the legality of the debt in question. A court judgment amounts to recognition that the debt in question is legal and valid. With that recognition come tools that debtors can utilize to collect payment.
Pro: More Options
Even though courts leave collection up to creditors and their representatives, state laws afford creditors a number of options to work with. For example, creditors can garnish a debtor’s wages. They can also seize assets and sell them. These are things debt collectors cannot do without a legal judgment in their favor.
Pro: Hindering Debtors
There are some cases when creditors seek civil judgments even though they know their chances of getting paid are slim. They do it as a means of hindering debtors from continuing their bad behavior. For example, having a judgment on one’s record can prevent a debtor from getting a car loan. Pursuing a civil judgment protects lenders who might otherwise offer a car loan to a deadbeat.
Goal: Higher Chance of Getting Paid
In some cases, pursuing a court judgment increases the creditor’s chances of actually getting paid. In such cases, the debtor just needs a bit of extra motivation to do the right thing. The court judgment could be that motivation. However, there are never any guarantees.
Con: The Time Commitment
On the negative side of things, pursuing a civil judgment requires a moderate time commitment. Civil litigation follows a certain set of procedures that take time to complete. Following the court proceeding, it can also take time to actually collect. Resolving such matters in a matter of months is rare.
Con: Having to Chase Debtors Down
Judgment Collectors says the vast majority of judgments in this country go unpaid. Among other things, debtors go to great lengths to avoid paying. So, creditors have to invest time, money, and resources into tracking them down.
Con: The Financial Costs
Debtors may choose not to pursue a civil judgment because they are not interested in the financial costs that come with it. Just filing the paperwork can cost several hundred dollars. Debtors then have to pay their attorneys. Finally, winning the case almost always means incurring additional costs by pursuing collection efforts.
Civil judgments can be effective in extracting payment from debtors. They can be just the type of motivation debtors need to make good on what they owe. On the other hand, pursuing one requires a time commitment and a financial investment. All things considered, the viability of pursuing a civil judgment must be determined on a case-by-case basis.
Anyone considering pursuing a civil judgment would be wise to talk things over with an attorney. In the event a case is pursued and won, it is wise to turn collection over to an agency that specializes in judgments.