Last month’s Tip of the Month was about filing civil claims (large and small) and how to do so. This month, we will continue on that theme and move further into it. Now that the claim is filed and you have won…then what?
What happens if you win your civil case?
If you win your civil case you are entitled to the money or property the judge decides is due to you, plus out-of-pocket expenses such as the fees for filing the claim and serving defendants. The Judge will sign in order for judgment to this effect. You may docket the judgment at the courthouse by paying a $5.00 fee. The docketed judgment then acts as a lien on the defendant’s real estate. You also may start a garnishment action to obtain a portion of the defendant’s earnings or bank deposits (subject to the earnings and bank deposit exemptions statutes).
To preserve your right to enforce the judgment, a party should ALWAYS docket the judgment in the county in which the judgment was taken and file a transcript of the judgment in any other county in which the losing party has, or may have, real estate. The fee for issuing a transcript by the county of original jurisdiction is $5.00. The fee for filing a transcript of judgment in another county is $5.00.
Recovering money judgments and garnishments can be tricky and our office recommends that you seek legal advice before attempting these actions on your own.