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Collections FAQs

Q.        How can I collect on a judgment?

Illinois law has several methods to help creditors collect on their judgments.  The primary collection methods are citation proceedings, garnishments and judgment liens.

Q.        What is a “citation to discover assets”?

A citation to discover assets is a powerful tool that lets a creditor discover financial information about the judgment debtor.  A citation typically attaches a rider directing the citation respondent to disclose information about the debtor’s assets, income, debts and liabilities.  Once the respondent provides those documents, the creditor’s lawyer can take the citation respondent’s deposition and obtain further information.

The service of a citation also creates and perfects a lien on non-exempt personal property of the judgment debtor.  If the judgment creditor discovers such non-exempt property, the court may order that property turned over to the judgment creditor.

Q.        What is a garnishment?

Illinois law recognizes wage and non-wage garnishments.  Wage garnishments let a judgment creditor collect a portion of the judgment debtor’s wages directly from the judgment debtor’s employer.  Non-wage garnishments allow judgment creditors to seize the judgment debtor’s property in the possession a third party (like a bank account), and apply those assets to satisfy the judgment debt.

Q.        What is a “judgment lien”? 

Illinois law lets judgment creditors record their judgments, or memoranda of judgments, with the Recorder of Deeds in counties where the judgment debtor owns real estate.  Such a recording perfects a “judgment lien” against the debtor’s real estate, which prevents the debtor from selling, transferring and/or borrowing against her property.  A judgment lien also lets the judgment creditor move to force the sale of the liened real estate and seize the proceeds.

Q.        What is “exempt property”?

Illinois law protects certain assets of the judgment debtor from collection.  Exemptions include clothing and family pictures, motor vehicles (up to $2400), pensions, life insurance payments, social security payments, and a homestead exemption of $15,000/person.

If you are either a judgment creditor or debtor and find yourself in need of a better explanation of your rights and remedies, please call us today.

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