How to Collect on a Judgment in Washington: Garnishments and Supplemental Proceedings
Posted Wednesday, September 3, 2014 by Ada K. Wong
You were awarded a nice judgment by the court, great! Now what? A money judgment does not necessarily mean you will be able to collect on it yourself. Maybe the debtor is actively trying to avoid payment. This is where we come in. There are several avenues to collect on a judgment if the debtor has assets in Washington state.
A popular way to collect on your judgment award is by a writ of garnishment. A garnishment entitles a judgment creditor to garnish and take the proceeds belonging to the debtor. It is typically used to garnish wages being paid by an employer or to garnish the proceeds in the debtor’s bank account. This means that we have to figure out where the debtor works. Sometimes the debtor is self-employed, which makes garnishing the debtor’s wages a challenge. If we know where the debtor banks and his or her bank account information, this is the easier route to take—granted the debtor has funds in the account. You can also garnish personal property in Washington held by third parties, and sometimes even attorney’s trust accounts when funds are paid for future legal services.
A writ of garnishment is issued by the county clerk and sent to the respective entity, the employer or the financial institution. You may typically begin garnishment proceedings 5 days after entry of judgment. RCW 6.27.090 allows for the creditor to recover certain costs in garnishment proceedings, including filing and ex parte fees, service and affidavit fees, postage and costs of certified mail, answer fee or fees, fees listed provided by statute, and garnishment attorney’s fees.
What if you do not know where the debtor works or where the debtor banks at? A successful collection technique is when a lawyer conducts a supplemental proceeding. This is extremely helpful if you do not have any information about the debtor’s assets. A creditor petitions the judge for an order requiring the debtor to provide their asset information – under oath. If the debtor does not show up for the supplemental examination, and the debtor was properly served and given notice, a bench warrant can be issued for the debtor’s arrest.
If you have a judgment award you want to collect on, feel free to contact Ada K. Wong at (206) 805-1493 or AWong@PivotalLawGroup.com.