By Eric Neal
Chances are, you may not be familiar with some of the steps you can take in collecting your judgment in Massachusetts. Judgment collections refer to the process by which a creditor (or judgment holder) collects on a debt that has been awarded to them by a court. This can be done through various methods, including liens, levies, and garnishments. Massachusetts is not the cheapest state for judgment recovery, but it is "litigation friendly," meaning there are several options to collect your money. Below are the most common options and is a great place to start.
A lien is a legal claim against a debtor's property that gives the creditor the right to sell that property in order to satisfy the debt. In Massachusetts, there are two types of liens that can be placed on a property: voluntary and involuntary. Voluntary liens are typically placed when the debtor agree to use the property as collateral for a loan, such as a mortgage or car loan. Involuntary liens are placed without their consent and can be issued by the court or another government agency. In regards to a judgment, it would be an involuntary lien.
A levy is similar to a lien in that it allows the creditor to sell the debtor's property in order to satisfy the debt. However, levies can also be used to seize funds from a bank account or other financial assets. In Massachusetts, there are two types of levies: attachment and execution. An attachment levy allows the creditor to seize your property before it is sold at auction. An execution levy allows the creditor to seize your property after it has been sold at auction.
A garnishment is a legal procedure whereby a portion of the debtor's wages is withheld from the debtor's paycheck and sent directly to the creditor until the debt is paid off. A wage garnishment will return 25% of the debtor's net pay to the creditor. A non-earnings withholding order (for 1099 contractors) can return up to 100% of the debtor's pay, but unlike a wage garnishment, it has to be issued over and over again. Other attachments can be issued to collect the money, including an attachment to the debtor's landlord for the security deposit.
If you're owed a judgment in Massachusetts, it's important to know your rights and options. You should always consult with an attorney before taking any action, but this blog post should give you a good starting point for understanding the basics of judgment collections in Massachusetts. Thanks for reading!