Overview Of Judgments And Collection

Get an overview of civil judgments in Nevada, including how a judgment creditor collects a judgment and how a judgment debtor might contest collection.


Overview

At the end of a civil case, the final decision awarding money to the winning party is called the “judgment.” (NRCP 54(a); JCRCP 54(a).) The party who won and is entitled to collect the money is called the “judgment creditor.” The party who lost and owes money is called the “judgment debtor.”

After the judgment is signed by the judge, it must be filed with the court clerk. This is called “entering” the judgment. (NRCP 58(c); JCRCP 58(c).) Once the judgment is entered, a notice of that entry must be mailed to all parties in the case and filed with the court clerk. Typically, the winning party can start trying to collect the judgment ten days after the notice of entry. (NRCP 62(a); JCRCP 62(a).) It is up to the judgment creditor – not the court – to collect from the judgment debtor.

To see a flowchart showing the collection process, click the link below or scroll to the bottom of this page.

Flowchart – Overview of Collection of a Civil Judgment 

FYI! Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada publishes a number of handy brochures on collection topics, including Attachment and Garnishment, What It Means to Be Collection Proof, and Debt Collection. For copies, click to visit Brochures.


Q&A – Judgments And Collection 


How can a judgment creditor force a judgment debtor to pay a judgment?

There are two main ways a judgment creditor can legally take property or money from the judgment debtor to pay a judgment:

  • Attachment

Attachment allows the judgment creditor, with the help of the sheriff or constable, to take personal property, such as a car, from the judgment debtor and sell it. “Attachment” means taking legal possession of the property. “Execution” means selling the attached property.

  • Garnishment

Garnishment allows a judgment creditor to take something of the judgment debtor’s that is in the hands of another person or institution, such as money from the judgment debtor’s bank or wages from his employer.

To learn more, click to visit Garnishing Wages or Attaching Bank Accounts.

TIP! This website provides general information about collecting judgments. But judgment collection can be tricky, depending on who you’re trying to collect from. If you hit a brick wall, you may want to talk to an attorney who specializes in collections.  Click to visit Lawyers and Legal Help.

What information does the judgment creditor need to garnish wages or attach bank accounts?

The judgment creditor – not the court – is responsible for collecting the civil judgment she won. To do that, the judgment creditor usually needs some basic information about the judgment debtor’s money or property (for example, where he works and where he banks). If the judgment creditor does not have that information, she can ask the court to set a hearing at which the judgment debtor must provide that information.

To learn more, click to visit Getting Information about a Judgment Debtor’s Assets.

What property or money can the judgment creditor take from the judgment debtor to pay the judgment?

The judgment creditor cannot take certain property related to basic needs. This property is called “exempt” property.

To learn more about exempt property, click to visit What a Judgment Creditor Can and Can’t Take.

FYI! Some judgment debtors are simply “collection proof,” meaning all their income and property is exempt and can’t be taken to pay a judgment. To learn whether you’re collection proof and about the collection process generally, attend the FREE Collection Proof Clinic! To learn more about the clinic, click to visit Free Classes.

When and how can the judgment debtor claim his right to an exemption?

A judgment debtor cannot assume property is safe just because it is technically exempt from execution under the law. The judgment debtor must take action to prevent the exempt property or income from being seized or to reclaim it after it is seized.

Before attachment or garnishment, the judgment debtor can:

  • “Homestead” his home or mobile home if he owns it or lives in it. To learn more about claiming a homestead, visit the Clark County Recorder website.
  • If the judgment debtor has income that is exempt (like Social Security benefits), he can notify the judgment creditor in writing of the fact that his bank account, for example, has only Social Security benefits in it. This technically does not prevent the judgment creditor from garnishing the bank account, but the judgment creditor is less likely to pursue the judgment if she knows that all funds are exempt.

After attachment or garnishment, the judgment debtor can:

  • File a claim of exemption with the court. When a judgment creditor garnishes wages or a bank account or attempts to attach and sell property, the judgment debtor has ten days from the date the notice of the attachment or garnishment is mailed to him (postmarked) to claim that the property or money is exempt.

To learn more about filing with the court and claiming an exemption, click to visit Contesting a Garnishment or Attachment.

If the judgment creditor disagrees with the exemption claimed by the judgment debtor, what can she do?

If the judgment creditor disagrees with the judgment debtor’s claimed exemptions, she has eight business days after the claim of exemption is served to file an objection with the court.

To learn more, click to visit Responding If the Judgment Debtor Contests Collection.

If the judgment debtor claims an exemption, how does he get his property back?

How (or if) the judgment debtor gets his property back depends on whether the judgment creditor objects to the exemptions claimed by the judgment debtor.

  • If the judgment creditor does not dispute the judgment debtor’s claim of exemption, the sheriff or constable will return the property to the judgment debtor nine business days from the date the claim is served on the creditor and the sheriff or constable.
  • If the judgment creditor disputes the claim of exemption, the judgment creditor can request a court hearing. The hearing will generally occur within fourteen days after the judgment debtor files and serves his claim of exemption. At the hearing, the judge will decide whether the judgment debtor’s claimed exemption is valid and whether any money or property must be returned.

For more information, click to visit Responding to a Judgment Creditor’s Objection.

How long does the judgment creditor have to collect a Nevada judgment?

A Nevada judgment will expire within six years from the date it is entered in the case unless it is renewed. The process for renewing a judgment is found in NRS 17.214. The judgment creditor files a Declaration for Renewal of Judgment with the clerk of the court where the judgment was entered within ninety days before the date the judgment is set to expire. Any judgment liens the judgment creditor has placed on the judgment debtor’s property must also be renewed.

A Declaration for Renewal of Judgment is available, free of charge, at the Self-Help Center. You can also download the form on your computer by clicking on one of the formats underneath the form’s title below:

JUSTICE COURT DECLARATION FOR RENEWAL OF JUDGMENT 
Pdf Fillable | Pdf Nonfillable 

Click to visit Basics of Court Forms and Filing for information about how to fill out legal forms and file with the court.

What happens when the judgment is completely paid off?

Once the judgment is completely paid off, the judgment creditor must file a Satisfaction of Judgment with the court so that the payoff is reflected in the court’s records. This is important for a couple of reasons. First, Nevada law requires that the judgment creditor notify the court that the judgment has been paid. (NRS 17.200.) Second, an unsatisfied judgment has a negative impact on a judgment debtor’s credit report and credit score. If the judgment creditor fails to file a Satisfaction of Judgment, the judgment debtor can file a motion to have the judge declare the judgment satisfied.

A form Satisfaction of Judgment and a Motion for Satisfaction of Judgment are available, free of charge, at the Self-Help Center, or you can download the form on your computer by clicking on one of the formats underneath the form’s title below:

JUSTICE COURT SATISFACTION OF JUDGMENT 
Pdf Fillable | Pdf Nonfillable 

JUSTICE COURT MOTION FOR SATISFACTION OF JUDGMENT 
Pdf Nonfillable |

Click to visit Basics of Court Forms and Filing for information about how to fill out legal forms and file with the court.

flowchart-collection-of-judgments