By Joshua Levin-Epstein, Esq.
Recently, our firm successfully represented a client in the enforcement of an order of the District Court, Tel Aviv (Jaffa) transferring money held in the United States to Israel. Having literally litigated from one end of the earth to the other, the conversion of a foreign court order into an actual financial recovery here in the United States was a great outcome and a relief for our client. Not all litigants are so fortunate, however.
For many litigants, the aggravation and expense of litigation continues even after the court’s award of a favorable money judgment. Judgment debtors will go to great lengths to frustrate the monetization of the court’s award into a tangible financial recovery: Concealing assets in shell corporations, transferring money abroad, and secreting assets, are all typical maneuvers by judgment debtors to stymie your financial recovery. This article provides a brief overview of the process of the enforcement of a money judgment.
The monetization of the money judgment involves a three-step process that includes: the (i) procedural and technical entry of the money judgment and service in accordance with the relevant procedural rules; (ii) the identification and location of the judgment debtor’s assets, and; (iii) the enforcement of the judgment against the judgment debtor’s real and personal property in accordance with the relevant legal rules.
A prerequisite for the enforcement of a judgment is the actual entry of the judgment. The ministerial requirements of the entry of judgment depend on where the judgment was obtained and the desired enforcement venue. For a judgment obtained in New York, for example, the judgment creditor has the procedural obligation of entering the judgment.
In the investigation phase of the post-judgment enforcement process, the law provides certain discovery tools to unearth hidden assets. In New York, for example, the relevant rules provide an array of powerful investigatory tools, including subpoenas, depositions and restraining notices, to pry information about the location of concealed assets.
In the enforcement phase of the post-judgment process, the law offers mechanisms to enforce the judgment against the judgment debtor’s personal and real property. In New York the applicable rules provide a variety of methods to obtain the judgment debtor’s property, such as income execution, sheriff’s execution and sale, and turnover proceedings.