How do I collect a divorce judgment?
September 23, 2009 11:46 AM Subscribe
I would love any input you might have, even though you are not my lawyer.
Four years ago my husband moved out and left me with his unpaid medical
bills. Since the debt was incurred while we were married and living
together, we were legally considered co-debtors. He told me had worked out a payment plan and I didn't find out otherwise until we were separated and subsequently sued. I was able to settle this debt, but my savings was wiped out (while we were married we had a his, hers, and ours system of money management). As part of the divorce settlement I was granted a judgment totaling $5000 + 10% annual simple interest. He signed off on this and didn't contest the amount.
posted by littlegreenboat to Law & Government (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Fast forward to today and he hasn't made any attempts to pay off the judgment. But then again, I haven't made any attempts to collect. I've decided to give it a shot, not just for the money itself, but also because I believe that there is a larger issue of fairness at stake. The problem is, I have no idea how to go about collecting this debt.
For the most part my ex tends to go all ostrichy when unpleasant things arise - he's an amiable and likeable fellow, but avoidant as hell (see above). Maybe he's changed, maybe not. Because the ex that I knew is most likely to ignore a demand letter from me, I would rather not send one without credible and actionable recourse if he does not respond. In short, I won't bluff.
A few facts: I live in Oregon (where the divorce occurred) and ex now lives in Maryland. I am fairly certain he has no real property. I don't know if ex is remarried or not. I am about 85% certain that I have his present address. I have the name of one of his employers, but I doubt that it's current. I think it's safe to assume that he has a job. I have the all the vital stats a (former) spouse would have - previous addresses, SSN, DOB etc.
I've looked into enforcing this judgment myself but the different-sides-of-the-country issue makes it complicated. As one can imagine, trying to do things like proper service/notice, wage garnishments, or transfer of foreign (out of state) judgment from 3000 miles away without representation is damn tricky. I've talked to a few attorneys and their rates tend to be higher than what I can afford to lose if I come up empty handed. I haven't found an lawyer that will take this case on contingency and the few collection agencies I've looked at only buy debts from business, but my search for either certainly hasn't been exhaustive.
And advice would be greatly appreciated!