A JUDGMENT is a final court order determining the rights and obligations of the parties to a lawsuit. Typically, it is an order establishing that one party (usually the plaintiff) is owed a certain amount of money by the other (usually the defendant), and is entitled to use any legal means to collect the judgment.
A DEBTOR is someone who owes money. A JUDGMENT DEBTOR owes money and has a judgment against him or her.
An EXAMINATION, in this case, is the asking of questions to a witness who is under oath.
A JUDGMENT CREDITOR (a creditor with a judgment confirming his / her rights) can obtain from the court an order requiring the judgment debtor to appear in court and answer questions under oath about his or her assets and income, to help the creditor in collecting the judgment. If, for example, the examination revealed that the debtor was working at a high payment job, the creditor could start garnishment proceedings. Or, if the debtor was a landlord leasing out real estate, the creditor could obtain an order requiring the debtor’s tenants to pay the rent to the creditor instead.
Typically, the creditor also serves a subpoena on the debtor, requiring the debtor to appear with a long catalogue of documents, such as bank statements, pay stubs, tax returns, titles to cars and real estate, etc.
If the judgment debtor, after being validly served with an order to appear, fails to appear, then the court can issue a bench warrant for his or her arrest. Meaning that if the debtor gets pulled over for a traffic stop, off they go to jail!
Technically, the Judgment Debtor Exam is not a way of collecting a debt, but may lead to information to help collect a debt. As a practical matter, many debtors do not want to testify in court.
If you are facing a judgment debtor exam or want to use one to collect a debt, call our office for a free consultation.