You’ve won a judgment in another state against a person or company who is located in Illinois. That’s the good news. Unfortunately, the judgment debtor probably isn’t too keen on paying you, and probably won’t do so automatically. That means you’ll need to enforce the judgment.
Your out-of-state judgment lets you pursue various collection efforts like wage garnishment or seizing property, but only in the state where the judgment was entered. To pursue collection efforts against your Illinois debtor, you need to get the judgment registered here. This process is called domesticating a foreign judgment. “Foreign” refers to any state (or country) outside Illinois.
Illinois lets judgment creditors domesticate their judgments using the Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act (UEFJA). As a creditor, you must file a petition to register a foreign judgment in an Illinois circuit court, which consists of an authenticated copy of the judgment from the state it was entered, an affidavit and a notice of filing. Once properly registered by the Illinois court, the out-of-state judgment becomes a judgment of the Illinois court, and has the same force and effect as any other Illinois judgment, and you can immediately begin collection efforts.
In many cases, a wage garnishment allows the enforcements of judgments against an individual debtor. This is achieved by filing appropriate documentation with the court and serving it on the debtor’s employer with proper notice. The employer will then withhold a portion of the employee-debtor’s wages. In Illinois, creditors can recover 15 percent of the debtor’s nonexempt wages until the employee quits or the judgment is fully paid. Illinois only allows one wage deduction at a time, so if your debtor has more than one creditor, you’ll want to move quickly. You’ll want to be first in line if possible, otherwise you’ll have to wait.
In collecting from commercial entities, you may also need a citation to discover assets. This is an extremely powerful tool that lets you demand that the debtor — or third-parties — provide information and documentation about the debtor’s income, assets, debts and expenses. This includes tax returns, bank statements, financial information, pay stubs and more. If the debtor fails to answer the citation, there can be a show cause hearing at which the debtor will need to explain why they should not be jailed for contempt. The service of a citation also creates and perfects a citation lien, which freezes the debtor’s assets, and permits a number of creditor remedies, including asset turnovers, charging orders and the imposition of liens.
If your debtor has assets held by another person or entity, a third-party citation to discover assets can help. This directs the third party to turn over the assets to you so they can be sold and used to satisfy your judgment, and also requires the third-party citation respondent to testify about the debtor’s assets and income.
Based in Chicago, the lawyers of Schwartz & Kanyock, LLC frequently assist creditors in enforcing out-of-state judgments against Illinois debtors. We will pursue all available collection avenues and guide you through the procedures. To get started, call our Chicago office at 312-436-1442 or contact us online.