A judgment is a finding by the court that one party has a legal obligation to pay the other party a specified amount of money. It may not be redeemed with the clerk of court for money nor is it a court order to pay the amount by a certain date. The judgment gives you certain rights to collect that money from the other side using the assistance of the courts. Many "pro se" litigants, lay persons, have the mistaken belief that "the court" will collect any judgment that may be entered on their behalf. That belief is inaccurate.
Post judgment collection is the responsibility of the judgment creditor. Post-Judgment Interrogatories allow the prevailing party is to ascertain what assets, if any, the judgment debtor has to satisfy the judgment debt.
The following is a general summary of the process. Please seek legal advice if you have specific questions on various judicial and non-judicial remedies that a judgment creditor may employ to collect the monies awarded to them in a civil case.
The Magistrate Court has the authority to enforce a response to post-judgment interrogatories with its contempt powers.
If the judgment for which the interrogatories are being submitted was issued by magistrate court, the judgment creditor may, after entry of judgment in the magistrate court, file the interrogatories specified in O.C.G.A. §15-10-50(d) with the same magistrate court with advance costs of $10. These interrogatories must be served on the judgment debtor by certified mail or statutory overnight delivery.
Interrogatories filed pursuant to a judgment entered in any other court must be filed as a new civil action and served upon the judgment debtor like process in any other civil in the magistrate court. Interrogatories filed in this manner must be accompanied by the filing and service fees required in Magistrate Court for other civil actions.
- Plaintiff files the Post Judgment Interrogatories in the Clerk's Office of the Fulton County Magistrate Court. The cost varies according to when the interrogatories are filed.
- If the Interrogatories are not answered within 30 days from the date of service, the judgment creditor may file a Motion to Compel Answers to Post Judgment Interrogatories together with a notice of hearing. Rule Nisi and Order to Answer. This is served upon the judgment debtor by the clerk's office by certified mail, return receipt requested.
- If the judgment debtor fails to appear at the hearing or appears without a valid legal reason for failing to answer the Interrogatories, the court may, in appropriate circumstances, issue an Order requiring the judgment debtor answer the Interrogatories within 10 days. This is served upon the judgment debtor by certified mail, return receipt requested.
- If there is no response to the Court Order requiring answers to the Interrogatories, then the judgment creditor must file a Motion to Incarcerate Judgment Debtor / Corporate Officer for Failing to Comply with Order Compelling Answers to Post Judgment Interrogatories with the appropriate notice. These documents must be personally served upon the debtor /corporate officer. A copy of the previous order is served upon the judgment debtor as well.
- If the judgment debtor / corporate officer fails to appear at the hearing, or in the event he/she does appear and does not have a bona fide reason for not answering the Interrogatories, then the Court may enter an Order for Incarceration for Contempt of Court. The judgment debtor is then arrested by the sheriff and held in the Fulton County Jail until the Interrogatories are answered and approved by the Magistrate.
Once a party has obtained a judgment, the party may request the issuance of post-judgment interrogatories, which will require the defendant to answer the seven statutory questions (listed below) for the purpose of aiding in collection of the judgment:
- List your full name, telephone number, and address, including apartment number and ZIP code.
- List the name, address and telephone number of your employer(s).
- Describe and state the location of each piece of real estate in which you own any interest.
- Give the names and addresses, and a description of the nature of any business venture in which you own any interest.
- List the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of all persons who owe money to you and specify amounts owed.
- List the names and addresses of all banks or savings institutions where you have any sums of money deposited and identify the accounts by number.
- List and give the present location of all items of personal property owned by you that have a value of more than $100.
This is an overview of the various procedures available to you. You should consult legal counsel if you have difficulties in collecting the judgment lawfully.