Civil judgments awarding money damages cannot be enforced until the court issues the judgment creditor a writ of execution. The creditor needs the writ of execution to being using collection tools such as garnishments and levy. Most money judgments include in the judgments the phrase “for let execution issue” which gives the judgment creditor the necessary writ to enforce the judgment.
A debtor has 10 days after the court signs the judgment to request a rehearing. Rehearing is not usually granted, and if granted rarely results in a modification or reversal of the judgment. Nevertheless, for 10 days after the judgment, until the time for rehearing ends, the debtor has some time to rearrange his assets. For example, when the creditor knows because of their prior relationship where the debtor banks a debtor can move money from his current bank account to a different bank to avoid immediate garnishment.
Savvy creditor attorneys have a tool which permits immediate collection and garnishment as soon as the judgment is signed so the debtor does not have a 10 day window to avoid collection. The creditor can submit a proposed judgment order that authorizes the writ of execution simultaneously. If the court’s judgment contains the phrase, “for let execution issue forthwith (or immediately)” the creditor can employ collection tools, such as bank garnishments the same day the judgment is signed. The debtor still has 10 days to request rehearing, but the creditor’s collection efforts do not wait for the 10 days.
Appellate courts have disagreed whether the immediate issuance of a writ of execution is proper. I have seen several instances where the trial court judges signed such judgment orders with immediate execution language, usually without object from the debtor’s attorney who probably did not comprehend the significance of the term “forthwith or immediately” in that context.. Debtor’s attorneys should be careful not to consent to judgment orders with immediate execution unless the creditor can demonstrate good cause.
About the Author
Jon Alper is an expert in asset protection planning for individuals and small businesses.
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