Collecting Judgments: Tips for Negotiating Payment Plans

    Winning a civil court case with a judgment that includes a monetary award doesn’t actually guarantee getting paid. Anyone who has ever tried to collect from the losing party, also known as the judgment debtor, can attest to it. There are times when collecting is even harder than winning the actual case. That brings us to the main point of this post: negotiating payment plans.

    Collecting outstanding judgments across the United States is what Salt Lake City’s Judgment Collectors does. Judgment Collectors is a specialist collection agency that only works on judgment cases. They explain that negotiating a payment plan is often the easiest and most effective way to collect a monetary award.

    Keep in mind the fact that having to go to court suggests you are not dealing with someone who is especially cooperative. Therefore, winning cooperation after the fact could ultimately be the key to getting paid. One way to do that is to negotiate a payment plan that both you and the other party can live with. Here are some tips for negotiating successfully:

    1. Keep Affordability in Mind

    Whether you are dealing with an individual or a company, affordability is always a factor. What can the other party reasonably afford on a monthly basis? Perhaps the amount the other party proposes is too small for your tastes. However, you know the old saying that it is impossible to get blood from a stone. If that is all the other party can afford, you might have to just take what you can get.

    2. Be Willing to Accept Less

    Asking for a monthly payment the other party cannot afford could result in a counteroffer of a lump sum of less than what is owed. In such a case, the other party’s attorney is offering you a clear choice: you can get the full amount by accepting lower monthly payments for a longer amount of time or take a lump sum with a built-in discount.

    Accepting less than what is owed can be a difficult pill to swallow. After all, a judgment rendered in your favor establishes the legality of the entire debt. You are rightfully owed that money. But is expecting to receive it all really practical?

    Perhaps it’s better to accept less than to take the risk of getting nothing at all. In fact, this is what your negotiations might ultimately come down to. As the judgment creditor, only you can make the final choice.

    3. Carefully Consider Fees and Interest

    Most states allow judgment creditors to add fees and interest to outstanding amounts. But when you are dealing with a debtor who demonstrates limited resources, adding to the debt only increases the chances of not getting paid at all. Carefully consider whether interest and fees are worth pursuing. Maybe they are. Maybe they aren’t.

    4. Maintain a Civil Attitude

    This final tip cannot be stressed enough: it is important to maintain a civil attitude throughout. Being rude or aggressive will only result in the debtor behaving likewise. You are likely to wind up with a standoff. You could find yourself having to take more aggressive action, like filing property liens or seizing and selling assets. Is that a road you really want to go down?

    Negotiating a payment plan might not be your preferred way to collect an outstanding judgment. But it might be your only reasonable option if the debtor has limited resources. The good news is that successful negotiations eliminate the need for you to pursue any further collection actions. You can get back to more important things while the debtor makes monthly payments.