Helstowski and Helstowski Law Firm can help settle judgments and liens. While a judgment creditor does not have to take less than the full value of the judgment, we often find that they will. We can assist in making the best case for the judgment creditor to lower their asking price on the judgment amount. We will find the correct judgment creditor to settle with, negotiate a settlement price, write the release of judgment, help transfer money to the creditor, make sure a correct release of judgment is signed, and then file the release of judgment in the county.
We often find that if a title company, realtor, or banking institution contacts the judgment creditor first, it lowers the ability to settle for less. The judgment creditor assumes that some type of real estate transaction is taking place and they will use that as leverage to obtain more money from the client.
Common Judgment Creditors
- Find the judgment creditor Sometimes this is the most difficult part of the process. A copy of the judgment will need to be obtained from public records. You can then contact the attorney that represented the creditor in court. They may or may not be able to help settle the judgment. Sometimes the creditors that took the judgment are out of business, have declared bankruptcy, or sold the debt. You will have to find the entity that owns the judgment now and document how they own it.
- Create a hardship letter A hardship letter needs to document the reasons why the judgment creditor should reduce the amount that they are owed. A good hardship letter should be able to provide details of a job loss, divorce, medical issues, or any other event out of the ordinary that inhibits your ability to pay the full amount due.
- Negotiate A judgment creditor has all the power in a settlement negotiation. Until the client agrees to pay a price that judgment creditor wants, they will not sign off on the release of judgment. A good hardship statement and correct documentation may persuade the creditor to reduce the amount of money they are demanding. The perfect settlement price is what a client is willing to pay and what the judgment creditor is willing to accept.
- Write a Release of Judgment This is the document that after signing will be sent to the court and recorded in public records proving that the judgment is released. If this is not written correctly or signed off appropriately, then it may be invalid.
- Transfer Money and Get Release of Judgment Signed It is imperative that you make sure that if you send money to a judgment creditor, they will release the judgment as agreed. If they do not then you may have to take more expensive
- File Release of judgment in the correct county The settlement process is not complete until you file an original copy of the release of judgment inside the county that the judgment was taken. Most counties charge a small fee to file documents into the public record.
The above pricing does not include the filing fees or electronic filing fees to the court. Sometimes the judgment creditor will agree to pay these fees. Filing fees typically are $26.00 for the first page and $4.00 there after. Release of Judgments are typically 2-3 pages. Some courts require a separate electronic filing fee which is usually less than $20.00.
A judgment creditor usually will not issue the release of judgment for 15 – 30 days after receipt of funds.
For our fees we will:
- Obtain the necessary documents to evaluate your situation
- Evaluate the documents compared to the client’s scenario and help render an opinion
- Help the client enforce their rights as to the debt collection / credit reporting.
- If desired, approach the lender to see if a settlement can be made that is favorable to our client’s goals of credit reporting and ending possible legal liabilities.
The above fees do not include the filing of a lawsuit against the creditor.