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Collecting a Judgment From Another State or Another Country in Illinois

April 18, 2023

What do you do when you get a judgment in your state or country and then realize the defendant moved to Illinois or has assets in Illinois? Fortunately, we can help. We focus our practice helping lawyers and clients with this very issue. Many believe when they get a judgment, the game is over, for us we know it's just beginning.

The first step is to transform your judgment into an Illinois judgment. This seems like it should be an easy process, but it isn’t. In fact, the process is confusing and complicated which is why lawyers choose an experienced practitioner in this area.

The first step is to do what Illinois calls “domesticating the judgment.” Illinois adopted the Uniform Enforcement of Judgment Act which you can find at 735 ILCS 5/22-650. Long story short, there needs to be a complaint, notices, affidavits. Getting a judgment domesticated is more complicated than filing a complaint. The good news is that in all likelihood, we know that a judgment will be entered.

So how do we do it? Honestly, you probably do not need to know the details of how the sausage is made. From the creditor's standpoint, there are only two things you need to do. First, you will need to get a proper copy of the judgment. Every court is different, some call it an “exemplified judgment”, others call it an “authorized copy of the judgment”. Here in Illinois, we refer to it as a “certified copy of the judgment”. Basically, we need a judgment with a stamp on it from the local clerk's office that confirms that it is genuine. Back in the day, we would need to file an original copy, but with e-filing all we need is a scanned copy.

The next step is that the creditor needs to supply the name and last known address of the debtor. That is it. From there we prepare the requisite covers, sheets, notices, petitions and ta da in about a week we have an Illinois judgment with an Illinois case number. The time here can add up so we do this on a flat fee basis.

Once your judgment is properly domesticated, we can unleash the bevy of enforcement techniques. We call these supplemental proceedings, and you can look them up at 735 5/2-1402 and Illinois Supreme Court Rule 277.

Here are some of things we can do to collect your money in order of preference:

  1. Issue a Citation to Discover Assets to a Financial Institution. In English, we serve papers on a bank, freeze the account and have the funds go directly to you.

  2. Issue a Citation to the Debtor’s Employer. It's harder and you won;t get a huge lump sum but if the debtor keeps working you will get paid.

  3. Lien on real property. If they have property, we get the judgment, record it and you get Illinois post judgment rate on a secured property.

  4. Turnover of property. If we know of a specific property, (sometimes with the help of a private investigator) we can ask the court to sell it. We can also foreclose on real property as well, but it can be expensive.

  5. Charging orders. We can make an LLC turnover distributions to you rather than the debtor.

  6. Citation to Discover Assets to the Debtor. Most lawyers do this one first, but it's basically an action that asks the judgment debtor where is your money? Debtors are reluctant to comply and are often less than forthright. However, if you do not have any other leads, this is the way to go.

There are a number of other things we can do to collect on your out-of state judgment in Illinois. If you have one and need help, please contact me at