While receiving a judgement from a court that orders a debtor to pay you the money they owe you, often times, that judgement isn’t the end of the battle. Just because a civil judgement for monetary damages is granted in your favor, it does not guarantee that you will receive payment. Unfortunately, the judgement debtor may not be able to afford to make the payment, they may forget to pay, or they may refuse to repay the debts that they owe
Whatever the reason, if a debtor does not repay a judgement, you will need to take action, because as in all states, in Iowa, the court will not collect the judgement for you; rather, you will need to collect the money the debtor owes you yourself. In the State of Iowa, judgement debtors are given 30 days from the time that a court has issued a judgement to appeal the ruling. Once that 30 days period has expired and you have not received payment or an appeal, you may then collect on the judgement.
You can work with defendant to collect the payment that they have been ordered to pay without court intervention; however, if that does not work, in order to enforce the judgement, following a court procedure may be necessary in order to receive the payment that you are owed. If you are planning on collecting on a judgement with court intervention, seeking the guidance of an experienced attorney is strongly encouraged, as a lawyer will have knowledge of the different tactics that can be legally employed to secure the payment you are owed.
Negotiate the Payment
Before discussing court procedures that can be used to collect on a judgement, let’s discuss what you can do in the event that the debtor is willing to repay their debt but they are unable to pay the full amount all at once. In this case, you could decide to allow the opposing party to satisfy their debt by making installment payments or by paying off the full amount that you are owed by a specific future date. Instead of collecting money, negotiating a transfer of the debtor’s property is another option.
The types of arrangements described above are known as “settlement agreements”. If you and the debtor come to a settlement agreement, make sure that you document, in detail, the terms of the agreement that was reached. The agreement should be dated and signed by both yourself and the debtor. Retain a copy of the signed and dated agreement for your records.
Execution of Judgement
If you do not reach a settlement agreement with the debtor, or if the debtor fails to file an appeal within the 30-day period after the judgement has been filed and has not paid their debt, you can utilize the court system to collect on your judgement. This is also referred to as “executing on a judgement”.
Prior to taking court action, you should first attempt to identify any assets or property that the debtor owns. Be sure to identify the location of the owned property, as well as the debtor’s place of employment. Once you have confirmed this information, you can go forward with executing the judgement.
Unless you receive permission from the court to file an execution of judgement in paper, you will need to use the Iowa eFile system to file the execution electronically. You will need to file a Praecipe, which is a legal document that informs the court clerk that they are to start the legal process of collecting (or executing on) a judgement that the debtor has not paid. This document directs the court clerk to issue an execution to the county sheriff in the count where the debtor’s asset or property is located. You must also pay a filing fee. The sheriff will then turn over any payments that they have taken from the debtor to the clerk. You will then need to file an electronic request for an order that condemns the funds held by the clerk. Then the court will order the clerk to pay you the amount that the sheriff collected. You will have to pay a sheriff’s fee and the sheriff will continue collection efforts until the judgement is fully satisfied or a period of 120-days; whichever comes first. If the judgement is not satisfied within 120 days, you can restart the process.