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Collection Process - Small Claims

Outline of the periodic payment process:

  • Should Defendant fail to pay in accordance with the Court’s Order for Payments, Plaintiff may file a Motion for Contempt for Non-Compliance with a Payment Order. No filing fee is necessary. Court schedules matter for show cause or content hearing. 
  • Court conducts payment hearing.  If Defendant fails to appear and there is proof of service, Plaintiff may request Order of Arrest. Defendant required to complete Statement of Assets and Liabilities which Plaintiff may review and may ask Defendant questions. Court issues order for Payment or may find Defendant has no ability to pay.
  • Plaintiff files Motion for Periodic Payments along with filing fee. Court schedules for payment hearing and forwards notice for service upon Defendant directly to Plaintiff
  • Plaintiff Awarded Judgment (after hearing, by default, confessed by Defendant)

In addition to the periodic payment process, the Plaintiff may seek a post judgment attachment upon real or other property owned by the Defendant.

Also, a successful Plaintiff may secure a judgment upon real estate owned by the Defendant by filing a certified copy of the judgment in the Registry of Deeds in the county where the Defendant's real estate is located. Court staff will provide the copy as requested; however it is the Plaintiff's burden to file the judgment with the appropriate registry and to pay any costs associated with the filing. There may also be a cost at the court for the copy.

When the small claim judgment is paid or satisfied in some other way, it is the Plaintiff's burden to provide the Defendant with a discharge releasing the lien. The court does not have a form for this. It may be advisable to consult with an attorney or with the local Registry of Deeds as to form/format. If the Plaintiff refuses to provide a discharge in 30 days, or if a discharge is needed immediately, the Defendant can ask the court for assistance. The Defendant may electronically file a request for a discharge with the court or, if the case was not filed electronically, this may be filed in paper form. There is no fee. The court may set the matter for a hearing at which both parties should appear.

Once the discharge has been provided, either by the Plaintiff or via a court order, it is the Defendant's responsibility to record/file the discharge with the appropriate Registry of Deeds and pay any fees associated therewith.