Obtaining a judgment against a PA debtor is necessary to collect money that is owed to you; however, the entering of a judgment does not automatically obligate the party against whom the judgment is entered to pay. Obtaining the judgment is only the first step in the Pennsylvania debt collection process and is usually the easiest part. Step 2 is the PA judgment enforcement process. Not only do you have to consider the judgment debtor’s inability to actually satisfy the judgment, the PA judgment enforcement process has a litany of other obstacles to be aware of. The following is a list of four important aspects of the PA judgment enforcement process to consider in your overall enforcement strategy.
1. Be sure your judgment names the correct debtor(s).
A debtor's company or entity name as it appears on its website or letterhead may not be its true legal identity for the purposes of enforcing a judgment in Pennsylvania. A PA judgment is only enforceable against those listed as judgment debtors. A proper search must be done to correctly identify what type of company the debtor is (LLC, partnership, etc.), where the debtor is incorporated, where in Pennsylvania the debtor's registered office may be located, and if the debtor represents itself under a different company name.
This concern is valid for individual debtors located in PA as well. A judgment obtained against an individual debtor must be properly named and addressed in order to be enforceable. An experienced PA judgment enforcement attorney will ensure this is taken care of at the beginning of the debt collection process.
2. Be aware if the debtor can even satisfy the judgment.
Before proceeding with the PA judgment enforcement process, it is important to understand that at the end of the day, the debtor may not have the funds to satisfy the judgment amount. Conducting an asset search on a PA debtor is one of the first steps for judgment creditors to receive payments that are due to them after obtaining a judgment in PA. By way of asset searches and other legal means, an experienced PA judgment enforcement attorney will be able to determine not only what funds and assets may be available to satisfy the judgment you obtained, but will also be able to tell you if it is even worth proceeding.
3. Understand the legal process of judgment enforcement in PA.
Enforcement of a judgment begins with the issuance of a Writ of Execution in PA. All counties in PA require the use of their own form for the Writ of Execution, and some counties even prepare it. Along with the Writ of Execution, a Notice to Defend and other forms that must be properly completed and filed. The filing of a Writ of Execution empowers a PA county Sheriff to seize the debtor's assets, including personal property, real property, bank accounts, safe deposit boxes, etc. An experienced PA judgment enforcement attorney can assist you with this process, as the laws and procedures surrounding these issues are procedurally complex and extremely specific.
4. Remain positive and persistent.
The PA judgment enforcement process can sometimes be difficult and equally frustrating. Even with the power of a judgment over their head, debtors are still not usually willing to pay what they owe. You have gone through the process of hiring an attorney, obtaining a judgment, and the time and expenses associated with this process. It is important to remain positive and persistent during this process, as the debtor will likely try to make this time as difficult and frustrating as possible, all with the hope that it may wear you down mentally and financially to the point where you give up, or they can negotiate pennies on the dollar satisfaction of your judgment.
The experienced PA judgment enforcement attorneys at The Martin Law Firm routinely assist lawyers, in-house counsel, paralegals, companies, and individuals with obtaining judgments against Pennsylvania debtors and the PA judgment enforcement process. Contact The Martin Law Firm at 215-646-3980 to learn more about our commercial debt collection services.
Debt Collection Tips for Business Owners [Free Guide]
Download our free debt collection guide for business owners to learn useful and practical tips from our experienced PA commercial debt collection attorneys. You'll gain insight from debt collection professionals, learn how to get paid quickly and consistently, and improve your business debt collection process. Download your free guide by clicking below.