February 2016

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By Attorney Elizabeth J. Schweiger 

The Circuit Court has granted your client a civil judgment, now what?  The first step is to docket the judgment.  Docketing a judgment puts the judgment on the formal court record.1 The cost to docket a judgment is $5 and this is paid to the clerk of courts.  Once the judgment is docketed there is now a formal lien against non-exempt real estate the debtor owns in the county where you docketed for ten years.2 The judgment may be docketed in other counties as well by requesting a transcript of judgment from the current county and then sending the transcript and docket fee to the new county’s clerk of courts.3 Now that the judgment is docketed your client has the ability to take action to enforce said judgment. 

            The court will send notice of entry of judgment to the debtor along with an order for financial disclosure and financial disclosure statement.4 The judgment debtor has fifteen days from the entry of judgment to either pay the judgment in full or fill out the form.  Failure to fill out this form may be contempt of court.  Your client can file a motion to compel asking the court to require the debtor to fill out said form but the better step may be to request a supplemental examination.  Under Wisconsin law, a creditor may apply to a court commissioner for an order to have a judgment debtor submit to a hearing to disclose financial information.5 At said hearing the debtor is placed under oath by the supplemental court commissioner and must answer questions in regards to their income and assets. 

            Now that you have the debtor’s financial information it is time to figure out how to involuntarily collect if a payment arrangement could not be agreed upon.  If the debtor is working, receives a W-2 at the end of the year, and is paid by someone for personal services your client can file an earnings garnishment.  An earnings garnishment is an action to collect an unsatisfied civil judgment for money damages plus statutory interest and costs, from earnings payable by the garnishee to the debtor.6 A garnishment notice is filed with the clerk of court and then the earnings garnishment form is served on the garnishee and the debtor.  The garnishee then determines if they will owe the debtor for the next thirteen weeks and if so they are to send twenty percent of the debtor’s disposable income to the creditor if no child support is paid, or twenty five percent of the debtor’s disposable income minus the amount paid in child support.7

            If the debtor is a public employee the earnings garnishment runs until the judgment is paid in full.  If the debtor is self-employed or an independent contractor, has rental income, or has a bank account your client can file a non-earnings garnishment.  A non-earnings garnishment is the garnishment of property other than earnings.8 A summons and complaint is filed with the clerk of courts and then served on the debtor and the garnishee.  The garnishee then files an answer stating whether there is any property they are holding that belongs to the debtor.  A hearing is then held where a request is made to the court asking that the garnishee be ordered to turn over said funds.9

            If through the supplemental examination your client finds out that the debtor owns property your client can file a judgment lien foreclosure.10 A summons and complaint is filed with the clerk of courts and all parties that have a possible lien on the property along with the debtor have to be served.  Then a lis pendens is filed with the register of deeds in the county where said property is located and a certified copy is sent to the clerk of courts to be filed.11 The lis pendens provides public notice that the property is being foreclosed on.  The court must issue a final judgment of foreclosure and then the property is sold and the proceeds are split between the creditors that answered the summons and complaint.12

            If through the supplemental examination your client finds out that the debtor is running a business that deals with a lot of cash your client can file an execution against property, also known as a till tap.  First, you need to request a bond from an insurance company to indemnify the sheriff.  This bond is good for one year from date of issuance.  Then you must pay a filing fee to the clerk of court and then give said execution to the sheriff for service and pay the sheriff a fee for serving said execution.13 This type of collection method can only be served on the debtor by the sheriff.  The sheriff within 60 days of receipt of said execution will return amounts collected minus their fee.14 You can then file the execution again if your judgment is still not paid in full.

            In conclusion, once you obtain a judgment the most important thing to do is docket that judgment in the county where the judgment was obtained and any other county that you believe the debtor may own real estate in.  Then, attempt to obtain the debtor’s financial information so that you can determine the best method of collections.

1 Wisconsin Statue § 806.10(1)

2 Wisconsin Statute § 806.15(1)

3 Wisconsin Statute § 806.13

4 See

5 Wisconsin Statute § 816.03(1)(b)

6 Wisconsin Statute § 812.32

7 Wisconsin Statute § 812.39(1)-(2)

8 Wisconsin Statute § 812.01(1)

9 Wisconsin Statute § 812.13(4)

10 Wisconsin Statute § 840.03(g)

11 Wisconsin Statute § 840.10(1)(a)

12 Wisconsin Statute § 846.01(1)

13 Wisconsin Statute § 815.05

14 Wisconsin Statute § 815.06

Posted: 2/12/2016 10:33:30 AM by Tom Connor | with 0 comments