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How to Collect a Judgment in Georgia

How to Collect a Judgment in Georgia: A Comprehensive Guide

Obtaining a judgment in a legal case can be a significant victory, but it is only the first step in the process. The real challenge lies in collecting the judgment amount from the debtor. In the state of Georgia, there are specific procedures and guidelines to follow when it comes to collecting a judgment. This article will provide a comprehensive guide on how to collect a judgment in Georgia, along with answers to frequently asked questions.

Understanding the Judgment Collection Process in Georgia

Once you have obtained a judgment, it is essential to understand the various methods available for collecting the judgment amount in Georgia. Here are the most common ways to collect a judgment:

1. Wage Garnishment: This method involves obtaining an order from the court to deduct a portion of the debtor’s wages to satisfy the judgment. In Georgia, the maximum amount that can be garnished is 25% of the debtor’s disposable earnings.

2. Bank Account Levy: By obtaining a writ of fieri facias (Fi.Fa.), you can instruct the sheriff to levy the debtor’s bank account. The funds in the account, up to the judgment amount, can be used to satisfy the debt.

3. Property Lien: Placing a lien on the debtor’s property can prevent them from selling or refinancing it until the judgment is satisfied. However, this method may not be effective if the debtor has no valuable assets.

4. Judgment Liens on Real Estate: By filing a certified copy of the judgment with the Superior Court Clerk in the county where the debtor owns property, you can create a judgment lien on their real estate. This lien will appear in public records and must be satisfied before the property can be transferred.

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5. Execution Sale: If other methods fail, you can request an execution sale. This involves selling the debtor’s property at a public auction to satisfy the judgment.

Frequently Asked Questions about Collecting Judgments in Georgia

Q: How long is a judgment valid in Georgia?

A: In Georgia, a judgment is valid for ten years from the date it was entered, and it can be renewed for an additional ten-year period.

Q: Can I collect interest on the judgment amount?

A: Yes, you can collect interest on the judgment amount in Georgia. The interest rate is set by the Georgia Department of Banking and Finance and is currently 7% per year.

Q: Can I collect attorney’s fees and court costs?

A: Generally, attorney’s fees and court costs are not automatically awarded as part of a judgment in Georgia. However, you may be able to recover these expenses if they are outlined in the contract or if there are specific statutory provisions allowing for their recovery.

Q: How do I find out if the debtor has any assets?

A: Conducting a thorough asset search is crucial in determining if the debtor has any assets that can be used to satisfy the judgment. You can hire a professional asset search company or utilize online databases to uncover information about the debtor’s assets.

Q: Can I negotiate a settlement instead of pursuing collection methods?

A: Yes, it is possible to negotiate a settlement with the debtor. In some cases, the debtor may be willing to pay a reduced amount or set up a payment plan to satisfy the judgment.

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Q: What if the debtor files for bankruptcy?

A: If the debtor files for bankruptcy, the collection efforts will be put on hold due to an automatic stay. It is crucial to seek legal advice from a bankruptcy attorney to navigate the complex process and determine the best course of action.

In conclusion, collecting a judgment in Georgia requires a thorough understanding of the available methods and legal procedures. By following the guidelines outlined in this article, individuals can increase their chances of successfully collecting the judgment amount owed to them. It is essential to consult with an attorney experienced in judgment collection to ensure compliance with Georgia laws and maximize the likelihood of a successful outcome.

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