New Illinois Law Places Restrictions On Collecting Money Judgments.

Imagine you just won a court case and received a money judgment against your opponent.  Imagine further that there is no insurance company paying the judgment you just won.  You are about to learn, if you have not already, that collecting on that judgment is not automatic.  The defendant does not have to write you a check for the amount he or she owes you.  Now, a new Illinois law has placed additional restrictions on persons seeking to collect on a judgment.  On July 25, 2012, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed into law Public Act 97-0848, which imposes new requirements that judgment creditors must follow when trying to collect money from judgment debtors.  Typically, a judgment creditor will serve what is known as a “citation to discover assets” on an Illinois judgment debtor after obtaining the judgment.  The citation is a powerful tool that places a lien on the debtor’s assets.  The citation requires the debtor to provide the creditor with information regarding the debtor’s assets, such as bank records and other documents to help identify available assets to satisfy the judgment.

Public Act 97-0848 requires a judgment creditor to serve a citation on the debtor personally or at his home, rather than by mail.  It also requires the creditor to serve the debtor with an “Income and Asset Form” which requests information regarding the debtor’s employment, income, real estate, personal property, bank accounts, vehicles and other related information.  If the form is not served on the debtor personally or at his home, then the court cannot issue a payment order to the debtor.

The new law also places restrictions on the incarceration or detention of debtors who fail to comply with citations.  Under the new law, no arrest warrant (called a body attachment) can be issued for a debtor’s failure to comply with a citation unless the debtor is first served with notice, personally or at this home, that he has an opportunity to appear in court and explain his failure to comply.   In addition, a body attachment automatically expires after one year.  So if the debtor evades service for a year, then the body attachment is no longer valid.  If a debtor is actually incarcerated on an initial body attachment, the new law limits the amount of bond he would have to post to just $1,000.  Furthermore, the new law provides that most of the bond money would eventually be returned to the debtor, rather than used to pay the debt to the creditor.

It should be noted, however, that the new restrictions imposed by the amendments to the law do not apply to judgments related to municipal ordinance violations in non-traffic and non-conservation ordinance proceedings.  In other words, local governments do not have to comply with the new law in many cases.

For more information on collecting on a judgment or defending against a citation to discover assets, please contact one of the experienced attorneys at DeBlasio & Gower LLC.  Visit our website at or call us at (630) 560-1123.

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