Putting a Judgment to Work: Why Docketing Should Be Your Next Step

Winning a judgment against a debtor doesn’t mean you automatically get paid. In rare cases, a debtor may pay the judgment voluntarily (usually just to make it go away). But in most cases, you’ll need to docket your judgment to help you collect.

What is “docketing” a judgment and why should I do it?

Docketing means you formally record your judgment with the court. It creates a lien on any property the debtor owns in that county. In Wisconsin, the lien is good for 10 years.

Where do I docket a judgment?

Because a docketed judgment only creates a lien on property in the county where it was docketed, you should docket the judgment everywhere the debtor has property. For example, if you get a judgment in Outagamie County, the debtor might own a house in Brown County and a cottage in Winnebago County.  Docket the judgment in Outagamie, Brown and Winnebago County.  A business debtor might own a store in Calumet and Outagamie County.  In some cases, you may even need to docket your judgment in another state.

How do I docket a judgment?

Generally, to docket a judgment in the court where you obtained it, you’ll need to file the judgment form and pay a docketing fee. If you’re docketing a judgment in another county, there are additional steps (especially if you’re filing in another state). Unfortunately, even within Outagamie, Brown, Winnebago and Calumet Counties, the process isn’t identical.  Always work with your attorney to make sure you follow the right process.

What happens once I docket a judgment?

You could wait to see if the lien on the debtor’s property is enough—the debtor may pay up to improve their credit rating or in order to sell the property. But in the meantime, you can pursue other options, like garnishment or execution against property.

A court may grant you a judgment, but the court won’t collect it for you. It’s up to you to seek payment, so docket any judgment you have and talk to your attorney about additional enforcement options.

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