Collecting on a debt can be a very frustrating process. It can be difficult to get someone to make payments on time or to take your collection efforts seriously. Some people will even live lifestyles specifically to avoid their financial obligations. They might move to new houses or change their phone numbers frequently so that you can’t engage in collection efforts.
If you do locate them, you may be able to take them to court and secure a judgment that allows you to garnish their wages. Whatever relief you feel after such a victory may be short-lived, as the person subject to the judgment could very well leave the state to avoid its enforcement.
If you discover that someone who is subject to a judgment from Florida or Massachusetts now lives in Georgia, what are your collection options?
You can domesticate the judgment
You might think that locating someone in Georgia will just be the first step toward initiating collection activity a second time and then obtaining a judgment again. However, you don’t actually have to go back to court with the debtor a second time to force them to pay you back.
You don’t need to get a new judgment at all. Instead, you can simply domesticate the existing judgment. The domestication process involves presenting the courts with an existing judgment from another state and asking them to make it enforceable in Georgia.
Provided that you have the right documentation and that the debt and judgment both meet state requirements, it will be a relatively quick and cost-effective process to domesticate a judgment. It will certainly be a faster and less expensive means of collecting on the debt than going back to court and re-litigating the claim.
Expediency is helpful when dealing with a recalcitrant debtor
If the person who owes you money has already shown that they will happily move to a new apartment, turn off their phone and even cross state lines to avoid repaying you, they could easily quit their current job and leave Georgia when you serve them with notice of another lawsuit.
Domesticating the judgment will give you a better chance of actually collecting on the debt, as the process will be quicker and will provide fewer opportunities for the debtor to avoid their responsibility to your company. It can be difficult and confusing for businesses or even collection specialists to manage a domestication effort. Partnering with a lawyer familiar with Georgia debt collection rules and debt domestication can help a company trying to collect on an existing debt.