Obtaining a judgment does not guarantee that you will be paid. You may have to pursue collection remedies. Before you can start any collection procedures, you must wait 21 days after your small claims judgment was signed. After 21 days, you may take steps to pursue collection remedies.
The following information explains briefly the procedures to collect your judgment. Clerks of the court will assist in the processing of your claim, but they are not attorneys and cannot give legal advice.
For further collection methods, you may download Collecting Money From a Small Claims Judgment - DCI 84.
What do I need to start collecting my money?
You will need the defendant's home and work address along with information about the property and assets that the defendant may own. If you have this information, you can start the process by either filing an Execution Against Property or a Garnishment.
If you do not have the above information, you will need to file a Discovery Subpoena, which is the Subpoena - Order to Appear - MC 11
When to file a Discovery Subpoena
You must wait 21 days after your small claims judgment was signed before you can file a discovery subpoena.
Complete the front of the Subpoena-Order to Appear - MC11
and the Affidavit for Judgment Debtor Examination on the back of the form. The filing fee is $15 (make check payable in U.S. funds to 48th District Court). The court will schedule the hearing date and the judge must sign the subpoena before it is effective. Once the subpoena is signed, the defendant must be personally served a copy of the subpoena.
The subpoena can be served to the defendant by an appointed court officer, legally competent adult who is not a party or an officer of a corporate party. You may utilize this court's process server and the fees are $21 plus mileage (the process server will send you a bill for service).
How to file a request and order to seize property
An order to seize property allows a court officer to seize property belonging to the defendant which can be sold to pay for your judgment.
You must wait 21 days after your small claims judgment before you can file an execution against property.
Once you have completed the Request and Order to Seize Property - MC19
form and filed it at the court, the judge must sign the form. The filing fee is $15 (make check payable to 48th District Court). After the judge signs the form, the service copies of the form are given to a process server to be executed.
The order can be served on the defendant only by the court's bonded and appointed court officer.
Filing a request for Garnishment
You must wait 21 days after your small claims judgment was signed before you can file a garnishment. A request for garnishment has to be filed at the district court where you filed your small claims case. Fill in the names and addresses of both defendant and the garnishee on the request part of the applicable form. The garnishee is the person or business that has control or possession of the defendant's money. The filing fee is $15 payable in U.S. funds to 48th District Court
If you utilize the court's process server to serve the garnishment upon the garnishee, the service fee will be $18 plus mileage. The process server will send you a bill for service. You may also send the garnishment upon the garnishee via U.S. Mail with a returned receipt.
There are three (3) different types of garnishment. Please download and complete the appropriate form for the type of garnishment you are requesting:
PERIODIC GARNISHMENT is used to garnish the defendant's wages, rental income, land contract income or other debt (accounts receivable income) that is paid to the defendant on a periodic basis. The garnishment is valid for 91 days or until the judgment, interest and costs are paid off, whichever occurs first. You may download the Request and Writ for Garnishment-Periodic, MC12
In addition, you need to file a Periodic Garnishee Disclosure, MC14
form and attach a $6 check made payable to the garnishee (person or business who has control or possession of the defendant's money). The garnishment must be served on the garnishee along with the disclosure form.
NON-PERIODIC GARNISHMENT is used to garnish the defendant's bank account or other property. Once money has been garnished or you have been notified that there is not any money to be garnished, that garnishment is no longer valid. If there is a remaining balance on the judgment, you must file a Request and Writ for Garnishment-Non-Periodic, MC13
form to collect more money.
INCOME TAX REFUND/CREDIT GARNISHMENT is used to intercept the defendant's State Income Tax refund. Once the tax refund has been intercepted by the Department of Treasury, the writ is no longer valid. If there is a remaining balance on the judgment, you must get another writ to collect more money. You may download the Request and Writ for Garnishment-Income Tax Refund/Credit, MC52
When will I receive my money from the Garnishment?
The garnishee has 14 days after the garnishment has been served to file a disclosure that tells you if any money is available.
If money is available, you will not receive any money until after 28 days from the date that the garnishee is served with a copy of the garnishment to allow the defendant time to file objections to the garnishment.
If the garnishment is for periodic payments, money will continue to be sent to you as payments become due until the garnishment expires.