Collecting Money in a Civil Case

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Collecting a Judgment

If you were awarded a judgment in civil court, you are a judgment creditor.

You should contact the person who owes you the money, the judgment debtor, to talk about payment.

Note: The court cannot guarantee payment. Although the court will try to help you collect the money owed to you, it cannot guarantee the debt will be paid.

This page is for collecting money awards from civil cases with a “J” or “DJ” docket number (typically $20,000 or more). For claims of $5,000 or less, please visit our small claims page. For claims between $5,000 and $20,000, please visit our special civil part page. (These are cases with either a “SC,” “DC,” or “L” docket number.)

Read our brochure on How to Collect a Money Judgment .

Writs of Execution

A writ of execution is a court document that gives a sheriff the right to collect money from a judgment debtor’s income or assets.

There are several ways to levy the debtor’s income or assets.

Wage Execution

Use the packet How to File a Wage Execution.

The judgment creditor can request an execution against a person's wages if the debtor works in New Jersey and earns more than $217.50 per week. To request a wage execution, send a Notice of Application for Wage Execution to the debtor by regular and certified mail. A copy of the application and proof of service must be filed with the Civil Division Manager’s office in the county where the case was heard. You need to include the $50 filing fee as a check or money order made payable to Treasurer, State of New Jersey.

If the debtor objects to the wage execution, the court will schedule a hearing immediately. If the debtor does not object or the court does not allow the objection, the court issues an order for the sheriff to deliver a wage execution to the debtor's employer. The employer will hold back a portion of the debtor's wages and send this money directly to the officer. Contact the county sheriff’s office for their fees.

You cannot collect judgments from:

  • Welfare benefits.
  • Social Security.
  • SSI.
  • Veteran’s benefits.
  • Unemployment benefits.

Bank Levy (taking funds from a bank account)

A bank levy is when a sheriff is authorized to take funds from the debtor’s bank account(s) to pay you. The first step in this process is to complete a bank levy writ of execution. For awards from civil cases with “J” docket numbers, send the writ to the Civil Division Manager in the county where the case was filed. For “DJ” docket numbers, the writ is issued upon request from the Clerk of Superior Court in Trenton. The court fee for a writ of execution is $50.

Once the writ is issued, submit to the sheriff’s office with the sheriff’s fee. Contact the sheriff’s office for their fees. You need to include:

  • The name of the bank.
  • The address of the bank.
  • The last four digits of the account number (do not list the full number).

The sheriff will notify the bank and the account will be frozen. Once the funds are frozen you can file a motion to turn over funds. This must be submitted to both the court and the sheriff. If the debtor does not object, the judge will sign the order. If the debtor objects, the court will hold a hearing.

Once the judge signs the order, you must send the order to:

  • The sheriff of the county where the bank is located.
  • The bank.
  • The debtor.

The sheriff can then go get the money from the account.

Seizing a motor vehicle

You must be able to show that the vehicle is registered in the debtor’s name. You will need either:

  1. A certified copy of the title, or
  2. A certified lien search from the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission.

The debtor might have an outstanding loan or debt on the car. You must determine if there is value or equity in the debtor’s car before asking a special civil part officer to take it.

Other items that could be used to satisfy a writ include:

  • Office or sports equipment
  • Household items
  • Jewelry
  • Clothing

The debtor can keep $1,000 worth of personal property and clothing. If the debtor does not have more than $1,000 worth of personal property, the sheriff cannot use this method.

Execution Against Real Estate

The final method is to ask the court for permission to sell real estate. This process is complicated, and you might want to consult an attorney. The process is also expensive because it requires:

  • A costly title search.
  • Publication of the sale in the newspaper.
  • Payment of sheriff’s fees.

Recording a Foreign Judgment in New Jersey

Use the packet How to File a Judgment Obtained from a Foreign Jurisdiction.

If you were awarded a judgment in another state, you can request that it be enforced in New Jersey. You need to provide the foreign judgment with an affixed seal from the issuing court. You also need to attach an affidavit attesting to your status as judgment creditor.

You can send the request by regular mail, certified mail or in-person deliver. Include a check or money order of $35 made payable to Treasurer, State of New Jersey. You can mail the information and fee to:
Judgment Processing Service

 
Superior Court Clerk's Office - Administrative Office of the Courts
Richard J. Hughes Justice Complex
P.O. Box 971
Trenton, New Jersey 08625-0971

Ways to Find Debtor Assets

Information Subpoena

If you do not have the debtor’s financial information, you can get an information subpoena from any New Jersey Special Civil Part office. An information subpoena is a court document with written questions about the debtor’s assets. You can use an information subpoena to request information about:

  • Checking and savings accounts.
  • What personal assets the debtor owns.
  • Where the debtor works.

You need to serve the subpoena to the debtor by regular and certified mail. It must include a return receipt request. The debtor must answer and return the information subpoena within 14 days from when it was served. Information subpoenas cannot be served more than once in six months without court approval. If the debtor fails to answer the subpoena, he or she becomes subject to contempt sanctions enforceable by the court.

If the debtor does not fully answer the subpoena within 21 days of receipt, you can request a court order allowing you to subpoena banking institutions, employers, or businesses that owe the debtor money. You need to submit the application supported by a certification to the court. If the court signs the order, you can begin serving the subpoenas to relevant parties.

Court Order for Discovery

Another option is to request a court order of discovery. Use the packet How to File a Motion in the Superior Court of New Jersey . The petition needs to include the amount due. If approved, the court issues an order requiring the debtor, or anyone with information about the debtor’s assets, to answer questions at a specified place and time. This order can only be issued once per year.

You can serve a copy of the order to the debtor or relevant parties by certified and regular mail. It must include a receipt for request and be served at least 10 days prior to the appearance date. If any parties fail to show or answer specified questions, they will be subject to enforceable contempt sanctions.

If the money is not collected (liens)

Writs for wage executions can last for 20 years, but other writs expire in two years. After two years, the debtor can choose to:

  1. Request a new writ of execution from the court by following the same procedures used the first time, allowing the special civil officer to keep trying to get the money; OR
  2. Request to have the judgment recorded as a lien against any real estate the debtor owns. Once the judgment is recorded in the Superior Court, the debtor cannot sell with clear title any real estate owned in New Jersey until the debt is paid.

To get a lien, request a statement for docketing from the Special Civil Part Office where the case was heard. You can send the statement for docketing, plus a $35 filing fee payable to Treasurer, State of New Jersey, to:

 
Superior Court Clerk's Office - Administrative Office of the Courts
Richard J. Hughes Justice Complex
P.O. Box 971
Trenton, New Jersey 08625-0971

Filing Fee Schedule 

Judgments $35
Docketed Judgments $35
Satisfaction of Judgment $50
Writs of Execution $50
Subordination, Assignment, Postponement of Judgment $35

Checks or money orders should be made payable to Treasurer - State of New Jersey. Attorneys may use their Judiciary Collateral Account to pay any fees. Cash is not accepted.

Fee Waiver Request.

If you believe that you should be exempt from filing fees due to your financial circumstances, use the filing fee waiver request form. This form should accompany your document(s). The form and the documents should be submitted to the General Equity Judge in the county in which the property is located. Once the judge has made a determination, your documents will be forwarded to the Superior Court Clerk's Office for filing. If the judge denies the fee waiver request, you will be notified to submit the fee before the documents can be filed.

Warrants to Satisfy a Judgment

If a judgment has been satisfied, the plaintiff should prepare a warrant to satisfy a judgment form and submit it to court. This is required so the court can process the judgment as satisfied and close the case.

Statewide Judgment Processing Services

The Judgment Processing Services Team enters on the civil judgment and order Docket judgments from the Law Division (civil Part and special civil part). This includes entering orders from the Chancery Division (Family Part and Probate Part, the Criminal Division, and municipal courts.

The team also processes:

  • Amended Judgments.
  • Orders to Vacate.
  • Orders to Revive Judgment.
  • Certificates of Debt.
  • Substitution of Attorney documents.
  • Judgments from other states (Foreign Judgments).
  • Other New Jersey state agencies against individuals.

All initial filings are recorded in the vicinages/local courts for proper stamping and entry. Once recorded in the vicinage, the plaintiff submits the judgment to the Superior Court Judgment Processing Services Team in Trenton, where it is docketed as a statewide lien.

All inquiries can be directed to Customer Service by calling  609-421-6100 .

All filings should be sent to:

Address for regular mail:

Superior Court Clerk's Office - Administrative Office of the Courts
Richard J. Hughes Justice Complex
P.O. Box 971
Trenton, New Jersey 08625-0971

Address for messenger service:

Superior Court Clerk's Office
Richard J. Hughes Justice Complex
PO Box 970
Trenton, New Jersey 08625

NOTE: Any mail sent through the U.S. Postal Service, including certified and U.S. Express Mail, must say P.O. Box 971 or it will not be received. Any mail sent through private carriers must include the street address.