Experience counts, particularly in the area of debt collection practice. Knowing all of the steps and consistently pursuing and applying them always makes a big difference in this area of the law.
The case will typically start with the filing of the complaint with the court, and then sending the complaint and summons to a process server to serve on the defendant. Once the defendant is served, it has 35 days to file an Answer to the complaint. Failing that, the next step is to enter a default against the defendant. Once that is completed, then it is necessary to prepare an affidavit of proof and non-military service. The affidavit sets forth the basis of the claim, and attaches any invoices or other supporting documentation. If the defendant is an individual, it is necessary to obtain a verification from the US Department of Defense website that the defendant is not actively in military service. That verification would then be attached to the affidavit. It is also necessary to submit a form of judgment to the court with the affidavit.
The court will then enter judgment in favor of the creditor and against the debtor. The judgment is good for 20 years. It is not a lien on the defendant’s property however, unless it is docketed with the Superior Court of New Jersey in Trenton, an additional and usual step.
Once judgment is entered, it is time to collect the debt. If the creditor has a copy of a check from the defendant, then we would prepare a writ of execution and submit it to the court to be issued, and then send the writ to the county sheriff to levy the bank account. That has the effect of freezing the money in the bank account. It is then necessary to file a motion for a turnover order, directing the bank to turn over the money to the creditor.
If the creditor has no information as to the assets, employment and income of the debtor, the next step would be to serve an information subpoena on the debtor. These are written questions for a business or an individual to obtain discovery of financial information. If the debtor fails to comply, then we can file a motion in aid of litigants rights, which will result in the entry of a court order granting the debtor some additional time to respond to the information subpoena, or failing that, allowing the creditor to seek the arrest of the defendant. The Order is served on the defendant, and if there is no response, then the creditor may apply to the court for the arrest warrant. Once it is issued, we would send the arrest warrant to the sheriff to arrest the defendant. Typically this will result in the defendant complying with the information subpoena. That will in turn give us employment or bank sufficient information to permit an execution. We also have access to databases which we use to locate people, bank accounts and places of employment.
Persistence is the most important quality in this process, as at any time, the defendant may decide to work out a payment plan or settlement to pay off the debt. I have been a New Brunswick collection attorney for over 36 years. Give me a call today to discuss your collection matter.