If you win the case and the judge issues a judgment in your favor, you can collect your judgment. You cannot start collecting until:
- The time to appeal runs out (30 days after entry of the judgment); or
- If there was an appeal and you won, after the appeal decision (judgment) is sent back to the small claims court, usually about 10 days after the appeal decision.
The court will not collect the money for you. But the court will issue the orders and other documents you may need to collect your judgment from the debtor (the party that owes you money). Keep in mind that not all judgments are collectable because the debtor may not have any income or property of value.
For more information, read:
There are some initial steps you can take:
- Give the debtor an address where he or she can mail the money you are owed. You can offer to accept less than the whole judgment if the debtor pays right away. But if you agree to accept less than the whole judgment, you will give up your right to the rest of the money.
- If the debtor does not pay you by the date the court ordered, write him or her a letter and include a copy of the court order. Remind the debtor that he or she owes you money and that you may have to follow more serious steps if he or she does not pay you voluntarily.
- Talk to a lawyer. If the debtor will not pay, it can be complicated, expensive, and take a lot of time to collect your money.
Read Tips for Collecting Your Judgment for more information on how to start the process of collecting the judgment. And for specific ways you can collect your judgment, read Ways to Collect From the Debtor.