This guide is designed to help you collect a judgment, or the money you
have won in a lawsuit. This collection process can be time consuming
and there is no guarantee that the defendant will pay you the amount
owed. The court will not act on its own to collect the money you
are owed. It is up to the individual who has been awarded a judgment
to take the steps necessary to enforce it. If the defendant in
your case is not willing to pay the debt or work out a payment
plan, you will have to complete and file more forms with the court,
pay the required filing fees and appear in court for additional
hearings. These fees are automatically added to the amount of your
judgment. Because collecting a judgment can be a complicated procedure,
you may want to consult with an attorney or hire an attorney to
Throughout this guide, the person who won the judgment or the judgment
creditor is referred to as you; the person ordered to pay, or the judgment
debtor is referred to as the defendant.
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Once you have won your case, your judgment is automatically recorded
in the court in which you won. Regardless of how you choose to collect
your money, there is an automatic 10-day stay before you can begin proceedings
to collect. Throughout collection efforts, you must provide the defendant
with copies of motions or correspondence that you file with the court.
There are three options available to you to collect your judgment:
• garnishing the defendant’s wages;
• garnishing the defendant’s bank account; or
• seizing the defendant’s personal property or real estate.
To pursue any of these methods, you need some information about the defendant.
Do you know where the defendant banks? Do you know where he or she works?
Do you know what property the defendant owns?
If you do not have information on the defendant’s assets, you may
require the defendant to answer written questions or bring the defendant
into court to answer questions in writing under oath.
Written Interrogatories in Aid of Execution
Once 30 days have passed since your judgment was entered, you can submit
15 written questions to the defendant about his or her finances and property.
The questions are known as Interrogatories in Aid of Execution, and the
defendant is required to answer these questions under oath. Interrogatories
can be served on the defendant through first-class mail. Once you have
served the defendant with the questions, you must provide written notice
to the court that you have done so. There is no form for this process;
a letter that includes your case number and your name and address as
well as that of the defendant’s will meet this requirement.
The purpose of these questions is to help you find assets that the defendant
owns that can be used to satisfy your judgment. Your questions should
cover the defendant’s bank accounts, employment, personal property,
and real estate. Unless the court orders otherwise, you may serve only
one set of no more than 15 interrogatories to be answered by the same
party, so think carefully before you submit questions.
The defendant has 15 days to answer. If you do not receive an answer
and more than 15 days have elapsed since you submitted the questions,
you can file a Motion Compelling Answers to Interrogatories in Aid of
Execution (form DC/CV 30). The motion asks the judge to order the defendant
to answer your questions, and the defendant is given time to respond
to the motion.
After the defendant is served with the order, he or she has another 15
days to answer your interrogatories.
Oral Examination in Aid of Enforcement of Judgment
Your second option is bringing the defendant into a courtroom to ask
him or her under oath about their finances and property. The answers
to the oral questions may help you determine the assets you may seek
to garnish in your collection efforts. If you choose this option, you
must complete the Request for Order Directing Defendant to Appear for
Examination in Aid of Enforcement of Judgment (form DC/CV 32). The form
cannot be filed until 30 days have passed since your judgment was entered.
The order must be served on the defendant within 30 days of its issuance.
The order will let the defendant know when he or she is required to appear.
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If the defendant has been properly served and will not cooperate with
your attempts to discover his or her assets, you can file a request for
a Show Cause Order (form DC/CV 33). The order will summon the defendant
to court to explain why he or she should not be held in contempt for
ignoring your discovery efforts. You can only file the request for a
Show Cause Order after the defendant has either:
• ignored written interrogatories, as well as an order from the judge compelling
his or her answers; or
• failed to appear for an oral examination ordered by the court.
If the defendant fails to appear for the Show Cause hearing, you are
permitted to file an Attachment for Contempt (form DC 5). If the judge
chooses to issue the attachment, the defendant in your case will be taken
into custody by the sheriff’s office and will be brought before
the court to explain the failure to appear. The defendant may be required
to post a bond for his or her release, which the defendant will forfeit
to the state if he or she does not appear at the next hearing. Both parties
will be notified of a new hearing date.
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Once you have the information you need to garnish the defendant’s
wages or bank account or seize the defendant’s property, you can
begin collection proceedings.
The collection process requires the filing of many forms, especially
if you choose to pursue more than one method. Some of the forms will
require you to select the method of service, whether you want the defendant
to be notified about your collection proceedings by mail, through the
sheriff’s office, by the constable, or by private process server.
If you are required on a particular form to choose a method of service,
when filing that form you should also complete a Request for Service
(form DC/CV 2). The post office, sheriff, constable, or private process
service should return the Request for Service to the court after service
has been made to certify that service has been made properly.
When completing the form, fill out the case caption information¾the
address of the court in which you are filing the form, your case number,
and the names of the parties. You must also fill in the addresses for
both parties, required in the bottom left-hand corner of the form.
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the Defendant's Wages
Garnishing the defendant’s wages means that a portion of his or
her pay will be diverted to you each month until the judgment has been
first step in garnishing someone’s wages is filing
a Request for Garnishment on Wages (form DC/CV 65). To
complete the form you need to know the name and address
of the defendant’s employer, as well as the amount
of your judgment and any additional money owed to you (such
as court costs and post-judgment interest).
If you have submitted the proper information, the clerk will issue a
Writ of Garnishment. If the writ is issued, the defendant’s employer
(known as the garnishee) will be served with the writ, which instructs
the garnishee to withhold a portion of the defendant’s wages to
satisfy your judgment. The defendant/garnishee then has 30 days to file
an answer to the Writ of Garnishment. You will receive a copy of the
garnishee’s answer, which will list any other attachments, or garnishments,
against the defendant’s wages. Attachments are satisfied in the
order in which they are served on the garnishee.
The Maryland Rules require garnishees to provide the withheld wages to
the judgment creditor within 15 days of the close of the defendant’s
last pay period each month. In other words, if the defendant’s
pay period ends March 26, you should receive the funds withheld during
March no later than April 10.
Although your garnishment may not take effect immediately, it is valid
as long as the defendant remains with the same employer and your judgment
has gone unpaid. So even if your garnishment is delayed because the defendant
has to satisfy another judgment, you are not required to refile.
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Defendant's Bank Account
In this instance, money in the defendant's bank account will be given to you to help satisfy your
judgment. Except in certain limited circumstances, you cannot garnish funds from a jointly held
account unless your judgment was against both owners. You also cannot garnish retirement or escrow
accounts. Financial Institutions must comply with the requirements, prohibitions, and limitations
of Federal Regulation 31 C.F.R. Part 212 and Maryland Rule 3-645.1, which prohibit a financial institution from holding a "protected amount" under 31 C.F.R. Part 212. Protected amounts may
consist of the following Federal benefit payments: Social Security, Veteran's Administration, Railroad
Retirement Board, and Office of Personnel Management.
The first step in garnishing a bank account is completing the Request
for Garnishment of Property Other Than Wages (form DC/CV 60). To complete
the form you need to know the name and address of the defendant’s
financial institution, as well as the amount of your judgment and any
additional money owed to you (such as court costs and post-judgment interest).
you provide the proper information, the clerk will issue
a Writ of Garnishment. The defendant’s financial
institution (known as the “garnishee”) will
be served with the writ, as well as a Garnishee’s
Confession of Assets of Property Other Than Wages (form
DC/CV 61). The garnishee has 30 days from the date of
service to file the Confession of Assets with the court.
You will receive a copy of the completed form, which
will list any assets belonging to the defendant that
the bank holds.
Once 30 days have passed since the original Request for Garnishment of
Property Other Than Wages is served and the garnishee has filed an answer
to the request, you can file the Request for Judgment Garnishment (form
DC/CV 62). Before filing the form, you must mail a copy of the request
to the garnishee and the defendant.
If the judge chooses to enter a judgment in your favor, the garnishee
will be ordered to turn over to you the money withheld from the defendant’s
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Seizing the Defendant's
Personal Property or Real Estate
Property or real estate can be sold to help satisfy your judgment. Of
the collection methods available to you, seizing personal property or
real estate are the most complicated and time-consuming. If you choose
to take this step, you may want to consider hiring an attorney to assist
you with the process.
There are costs to seizing real estate or property. You will be responsible
for any costs associated with the sale, so be sure that the proceeds
from the sale, minus your costs, make this procedure worth your time
There are also exceptions to what can be sold. If the defendant in your
case owns his or her property jointly, you cannot sell the property itself
unless you have a judgment against both owners.
You can, however, sell the defendant’s interest in a property.
For example, if the defendant owns a home jointly with a sibling, the
home cannot be sold. However, you will be able to sell the defendant’s
interest in the home. Whoever buys the interest will become a joint owner
with the defendant’s sibling.
The defendant is also permitted to request certain exemptions. Read the
Notice to the Defendant on the reverse side of the Request for Writ of
Execution for an explanation of the possible exemptions.
If you choose to seize the defendant’s personal property or real
estate, you should file a Request for Writ of Execution (form DC/CV 40).
There are steps you may be required to take, however, before filing your
request for a writ.
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If you would like to sell the defendant’s real estate, prior to
filing the Writ of Execution you must record your judgment in the circuit
court for the county in which the property is located, with the exception
of Baltimore City. If you win a judgment in Baltimore City, the judgment
is automatically recorded in the District Court as a lien on property
in Baltimore City. If your judgment was entered in any other county,
you must file the Request to File Notice of Lien (form DC/CV 35).
For example, if you win your case in Prince George’s County and
know that the defendant owns real estate there, you should complete the
Notice of Lien and indicate that the property you would like to sell
is in Prince George’s County. Fill out the case caption information,
including your case number and the names and addresses of both parties.
Under the second section of the form, enter the date your judgment was
entered and the amount that you were awarded, along with any attorney’s
fees or court costs. Because the real estate you would like to sell is
located in the same county in which your judgment was entered, you should
check the first box. File the completed Notice of Lien in the Prince
George’s County District Court, which will forward the information
to the circuit court.
However, if you win your case in Prince George’s County and find
that the defendant owns estate in Anne Arundel County, you should complete
the Notice of Lien and indicate that the property you are interested
in selling is in Anne Arundel County. Because the real estate is located
in a county other than the one in which your judgment was entered, check
the second box and enter the name of the county where the property is
located. File the completed Notice of Lien in the Prince George’s
County District Court, which will forward the information to the correct
you are attempting to seize real estate in a county other
than the one in which your judgment was entered, you
are also required to complete the Request for Transmittal
of Judgment (form DC/CV 34). When completing the form,
put the name of the county in which you would like your
judgment recorded (Anne Arundel in the example above).
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If you intend to seize personal property, such as a car or a boat, in
a county other than the one in which you won your judgment, you should
complete the Request for Transmittal of Judgment (form DC/CV 34). When
filling out the form, put the name of the county in which you would like
your judgment of recorded.
Writ of Execution
You will receive notice from the court once your judgment has been recorded
properly. At this point, you may file the Request for Writ of Execution
(form DC/CV 40). You should file the Writ of Execution in the county
in which the property you intend to seize is located.
When you file this request, you are asking the court to have property
belonging to the defendant levied or seized to satisfy your judgment.
In most counties, the sheriff’s office is responsible for levying
or seizing property. In Baltimore County, constables
perform these duties.
If you would like to seize the defendant’s car, you are required
to file a copy of the title with the Request for Writ of Execution. The
title must have been obtained within 90 days of the date that you file
your request. Contact the Motor Vehicle Administration to find out how
to obtain a copy of the title and for information about the fees involved.
If you would like to seize the defendant’s real estate, you must
have a copy of the deed. Deeds are public record that can be found at
the circuit court for the county in which the real estate is located.
When completing the Request for Writ of Execution, the description that
you provide of the property must be the legal description found on the
In the top half of the Request for Writ of Execution, you should enter
the amount of money that is owed to you. After entering the defendant’s
last known address and the location of the property to be levied, you
should write a detailed description of the property. Be as specific as
The next question deals with what you would like the sheriff to do with
the property. If you select the first box, “leave the property
where found,” the sheriff will post a notice alerting the defendant
that the property has been levied. If you would like to sell the property,
you must have it seized.
If you choose to “exclude others from access to it or use of it,” the
sheriff will still leave the property but render it inaccessible. For
instance, the defendant can be barred from using his or her car. You
may be required to post a bond with the sheriff if you choose this option.
If you choose the last box, “remove it from the premises,” the
sheriff will remove the property. This option requires you to post a
bond, in an amount to be determined by the sheriff. The sheriff’s
office will use the bond to meet its costs; any unused portion will be
returned to you.
There is a 30-day waiting period before property can be sold. The waiting
period allows the defendant the opportunity to file a motion to request
that the property be exempted.
After 30 days have passed, the sheriff can sell the property to pay you.
The sheriff will not automatically sell the property; however, after
the 30 days have elapsed, you must contact the sheriff to request the
sale. If you do not do so, the property may be released to the defendant
after 120 days.
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When you receive a payment from the defendant, you are required to document
the payment with both the defendant and any garnishees. A Judgment
Creditor’s Monthly Report must be provided to the defendant and
any garnishees within 15 days after the end of each calendar month in
which you receive a payment. You are not required to file a report with
the District Court.
Renewing your Judgment
In Maryland, a judgment is only valid for 12 years. If you have not been
able to collect your judgment within that time, you will have to renew
the judgment to continue your collection efforts. Complete the Notice
to Renew Judgment (form DC/CV 23) and file it with the court. The renewal
form must be completed while your judgment is still valid. For example,
if your judgment was entered on February 1, 1988, your judgment is valid
until February 1, 2000. If you file a renewal of judgment on February
2, 2000, your judgment has expired and will no longer be honored.
Order of Satisfaction
Once your judgment has been paid in full, you must file with the court
an Order of Satisfaction (form DC/CV 31). After the clerk processes the
order, each of the courts in which the judgment was recorded will be
notified that the judgment has been paid in full.
Failing to file this form can cost you money. If you fail to file the
order and the debtor files a Motion for Order Declaring the Judgment
Satisfied, the court can order that you reimburse the defendant for any
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