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How to collect payment from a debtor in another state

Whether you always dreamed of owning your own business or you came into it through a family inheritance, you take pride in the work you do, the service you provide or the product you sell. You may be wildly successful or getting by year to year, but you have a loyal customer base and dependable vendors or contractors.

What you don't need is to deal with a customer or client who won't pay for the work your company contracted to do. Dealing with unsettled debt is time consuming, and even after you win a lawsuit, your delinquent customers may count on the fact that you are busy trying to run a company and may not be willing to chase a debt, especially if your client or his or her assets are in another state besides Georgia. Fortunately for you, the federal government is on your side.

How the UEFJA can help you

If you have successfully brought a claim to court to obtain payment from a delinquent customer who lives in another state, you may think your troubles are over and the money should arrive any day. However, if your customer refuses to pay, even in the wake of a court judgement, you may fear that you will have to make a trip to the customer's state and bring the whole thing to that state's court system.

This is not necessary because of the Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act. An overview of the UEFJA includes the following details:

  • A valid judgment in your state is enforceable in other states.
  • Your first step is to domesticate your judgment, which means to file it at the clerk's office in the county where your debtor lives.
  • Your debtor will have time to respond to the judgment but may not re-try the entire case.
  • If the other person fails to respond, the court will enter the judgment from your original trial.
  • Having the judgment validated in the debtor's state allows you to take legal action to collect the debt, such as levies, wage garnishment or attachment of assets.
  • Most but not all states have adopted the law, but in those that have not, other options may be available.

The process for claiming unpaid, out-of-state debts awarded after a judge's ruling may sound complicated, but it is much simpler than having to retry the case to win authorization by that state to pursue payment through legal channels. Additionally, with the assistance of an attorney, you may find the process goes quickly and your debt issues have a better chance of resolving in your favor.

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