Anyone who has received a judgment from the court against another has the right to enforce the judgment.
The plaintiff can only collect the amount stated the judgment. In addition, the plaintiff may also receive accumulated interest and additional court costs.
If a judgment is not paid within 21 days or payment arrangements have not been made with the court after the judgment was made, then the plaintiff may proceed to enforce the judgment.
There are several ways to enforce a judgment. The most common method is garnishment. In addition, the plaintiff may get a writ of execution to seize the defendant’s property to satisfy the debt. If the plaintiff does not know defendant’s assets, the plaintiff may compel disclosure through a civil discovery subpoena.
The plaintiff may garnish defendant’s wages, bank or credit union accounts, or state income tax refunds.
The plaintiff must file with the court a Periodic Garnishment form, Garnishee Disclosure form, and a Final Statement. The plaintiff must fill out the top one-third of the forms. These forms must be filled out in order for an employer to accept the garnishment. The plaintiff must also include $35.00 fee that must be paid to the defendant’s employer. Before sending the forms, make sure that the address to where these forms should be sent is correct. (Note: the correct address may not be the defendant’s place of employment address.)
In general, the amount garnished is based upon the wages after taxes, federal exemptions, and other statutory guidelines. Please see the last page of Garnishee Disclosure form for more details.
The plaintiff must file with the court a Non-periodic Garnishment form and a Garnishee Disclosure form. Again, the plaintiff must fill out the top one-third of the form. The plaintiff must also include a $1.00 fee payable to the defendant’s bank or credit union.
The bank will place a hold on the account. The bank will only hold the amount of the judgment and costs. The bank will allow access to funds beyond what is required to satisfy the judgment and costs.
The plaintiff must file a State Income Tax Garnishment form with the court. The plaintiff must also include a $6.00 fee payable to the State of Michigan. This form must be filed with the State of Michigan between November 1 and December 31 for the year to be garnished.
All garnishment forms and fees must be sent via certified mail with a return receipt request or personally served.
Each form gives instructions about sending a copy to the defendant. Please read each form for details.
Installment Payment Orders
An installment payment order requires the defendant to pay the judgment in certain amounts periodically, for example, a certain amount every month. As long as the order remains in effect, there will be no garnishments of the defendant’s paycheck.
If the installment payment plan was not part of the judgment, the defendant may file a Motion for an Installment Payment Order.The court will serve the motion on the plaintiff. If the plaintiff does not respond within 14 days, the court will enter the Installment Payment Order. If the plaintiff objects, a hearing will be scheduled to allow both sides to present their case to the judge. The judge will then decide whether or not to issue the order and what the order will require.
The plaintiff can file a motion to Motion to Set Aside an Order for Installment Payments. The request is filed with the court. Serve a copy on the defendant by first-class mail. If the defendant has an attorney, serve the motion on the attorney. The defendant has 14 days to respond. If the defendant does not respond within 14 days, the court will sign an Order on the Motion to Set Aside the Order for Installment Payments. If the defendant files an objection within 14 days, a hearing will be scheduled to allow both sides to present their case to the judge. The judge will then make the decision to set aside the payment order, to continue it, or to modify it. If the Installment Payment Order is set aside, the plaintiff can garnish the defendant’s paycheck.
Writs of Execution
The plaintiff must file a Request and Order to Seize Property and a $15.00 filing fee. There will be additional fees for court officers. Court officers serve the writ of execution on the defendant.
The plaintiff needs to know:
- Where the defendant’s property is located,
- The amount currently owed on the judgment, and
- A list of what property the defendant owns.
Civil Discovery Subpoena
This is a court compelled disclosure of a defendant’s assets. At this hearing, the plaintiff will learn about the defendant's assets. This will allow the plaintiff to pursue other methods of collection. Click here for the required form.
The plaintiff must file a request with the court and a $15.00 filing fee. The subpoena must be personally served by a court officer. The court officer will charge $21.00 plus mileage. The court officer will bill the plaintiff directly.
After the defendant is served, a hearing date will be set. The hearing will be with the judge where the plaintiff may inquire into income and assets of the defendant. The plaintiff should plan on attending. The defendant must attend. If the defendant fails to appear, then the court will issue a warrant for the defendant's arrest.