Some creditor clients believe that, once they get a judgment, it’s then just a matter of counting the money. Well, not my clients, because I constantly warn them all that a judgment is just a part of the collection process. Collections takes time, I tell them, and the judgment debtor may want (or need) to stretch the repayment out.
And, whether a creditor likes it or not, a debtor can force a creditor to accept payments over time.
It’s called a “Motion to Pay Judgment by Installments,” and it’s provided for under Tenn. Code Ann. § 26-2-216. That statute allows a debtor to ask that any wage garnishment or bank levy be stayed so that the debtor can make court ordered installment payments. The motions must be supported by an affidavit showing the debtor’s inability to pay the debt with funds other than wages, and this is usually supported by a budget showing income and expenses.
In this economy, you’re going to see these. Here are some hints:
- The debtor may make only one of these motions. See § 26-2-216(a)(3).
- Once the debtor defaults with any obligation under the payment proposal, all bets are off and you can collect.
- Because it requires an affidavit and supporting documents, it’s a good source for finding your debtor’s financial information (hint: look for Motions your debtor has filed in other cases).
- These can be set for “review” hearings, so, if a debtor is proposing something that doesn’t work long-term, ask the Court to set a review hearing in 6 months.
Here’s why I like Slow Pay Motions: They indicate a debtor trying to get a handle on their finances–they are making a proposal to pay you back and are trying to do something they can realistically afford.
Plus, within the spectrum of forcing you to accept payments, these Motions are better than the alternative (i.e. a Bankruptcy filing).