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Post-Judgment Remedies/Post-Judgment Collections/Executing on a Judgment

While Texas law provides judgment debtors (the loser in a civil lawsuit) with robust homestead exemptions for real and personal property, Texas law also provides the holder of a judgment, or judgment creditor, (the winner in a civil lawsuit) with many options for collecting what is due.

First of all, a judgment becomes “final” under Texas law thirty (30) days after it is signed by the judge, unless there is an appeal or a motion for a new trial. After it becomes final, the first thing that should be done is to “abstract” the judgment. This simply means that a person authorized to act on behalf of the plaintiff/judgment creditor signs a formalistic affidavit that describes the nature and amount of the judgment and files this instrument in the real property records of the County Clerk. The clerk of the court issuing the judgment will prepare this document for a small fee. This process allows the judgment creditor to attach a lien to any real property the defendant/judgment debtor owns in that county.

After abstracting a judgment, there are a number of options available to the judgment creditor, depending on the nature of the assets of the defendant/judgment debtor. It is wise, at this point, to spend a modest amount on a private investigator to determine whether proceeding with post-judgment remedies will be cost effective.

If the judgment debtor has real property, the easiest method of obtaining money from them is to have the clerk of the court where the final judgment is filed issue a writ of execution. For a very small fee, the clerk prepares a document indicating the amount of the judgment and the nature of the judgment, and instructing the sheriff or constable to search out and find any non-exempt real property, and then sell such property, applying the proceeds to the outstanding judgment. There are many homestead exemptions in Texas, including without limitation, 10 acres of property and a house on the same parcel in the city and 200 acres and a house on the same acreage in rural areas. Also, each person over the age of 16 in the household can protect one automobile. The source of some humor are the other assorted provisions which provide for the protection of certain amounts of cattle, equine animals, and domestic fowl.

For intangible and harder to reach property like stocks and interests in private companies or partnerships, your Texas Collections Lawyer can apply for, and receive, relief under the Texas Turnover Statutes. With a turnover order, a judgment creditor can have shares in corporations and interests in small companies turned over to the sheriff for sale to the highest bidder in satisfaction of a judgment. Charging orders are also used to distribute to the judgment creditor amounts currently due and payable to partners of partnerships and similarly situated individuals.

Writs of garnishment can also be obtained by your Texas Collections Attorney. Most commonly, a writ of garnishment is targeted at a bank or financial institution where the judgment debtor/defendant banks or has assets. The writ of garnishment directs the bank to pay to the judgment creditor any and all funds on deposit or in the possession of the bank (garnishee) of the defendant/judgment debtor up to the amount of the judgment. Writs of garnishment are not limited only to banks, but can be used against any third-party in possession of assets of the judgment debtor.

Other specialized remedies like writs of attachment, writs of sequestration, writs of levy in place, and other instruments are also available, and are used in very specific instances, as in the foreclosure upon property involved in a secured transaction under Article 9 of the UCC (Texas Business & Commerce Code).

In determining the best course of action after a judgment, your qualified Texas Business Attorney or Texas Collections Lawyer can help you decide which of these remedies and actions is the most likely to yield results.

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