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"I Won My Case! Now Where's My Cash?" Collecting a Money Judgment in Illinois

Posted by CTM Legal Group | Oct 30, 2023 | 0 Comments

By Attorney John Tasch

Congratulations! You won your lawsuit. Maybe you proved that someone breached a contract with you or your business; maybe you proved that someone broke the law when they were renting an illegal apartment; or maybe you proved that someone hit and injured you with their car. Whatever it was, a judge in Illinois has ordered someone to pay you money. Celebrate now, but don't get too comfortable. Even though the order says you've won, your wallet still feels a little empty. You, now a judgment creditor, need to collect that money from the judgment debtor.

Third Party Citations – “Bank Levies” and “Wage Garnishment”

Bank levies and wage garnishments can be very effective methods of legal collection. If you discover that the debtor has a bank account, you can issue a “citation” to the debtor's bank—with the imprimatur of the Court—asking the bank to answer, under oath, how much of the debtor's money they are holding. Once they answer, you can ask the judge to enter a “turnover order” to satisfy the judgment.

Many times, the judgment debtor doesn't have money to pay the judgment when it's entered. In a wage garnishment, similar to a bank levy, you issue a “citation” to the debtor's employer. They tell you, under oath, what the debtor makes in wages, and you can then ask the Court to order the employer to pay a percentage of the debtor's wages to you instead of the debtor. Of course, every debtor is different. One wage deduction from an NBA superstar is going to look much different than one from a grocery store clerk, for example. Illinois law also has strict limits on the amount that can be garnished from one's wages, or seized from their bank account, for the debtor's protection.

Direct Citations – “Citation To Discover Assets”

If you are having trouble finding out where the debtor banks or where they're employed, you can issue a “Citation To Discover Assets” directly to the judgment debtor. Debtors often attempt to evade collection efforts by concealing their assets. The citation to discover assets orders the debtor to appear in court (like a summons) and answer questions, under oath, about what they own, what money they are anticipating, where they work, and anything else needed to discover assets or income not exempt from collection.

Legal Protections and Exemptions

Illinois, like any other state, provides many protections and exemptions for debtors of which creditors should be aware. Debtors may claim that certain income or property is exempt from seizure for a variety of reasons pursuant to law.

Experienced attorneys at CTM Legal Group can help you ensure legal compliance and get your money back ASAP. Call us today at 312-818-6700.

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