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How Do You Enforce a Judgment from Another State in Illinois?

Feb. 22, 2022

We get this question all the time from out of state creditors and law firms so we figured we would answer it here. The first thing that needs to be done is to turn that out of state judgment into an Illinois judgment. Illinois adopted the Uniform Enforcement of Judgments Act which is codified in 736 ILCS 5/12-650. In the business, we call this domesticating the judgment.

One would think that domesticating a judgment would be a simple process but it is not. Frankly, in many respects it's like filing a new matter. The costs are the same. The only difference is that if the lawyer does it the right way there should be no issue about getting a judgment or its amount.

To get started, the first thing you need is a copy of the judgment, preferably one authenticated, exemplified, certified or whatever term your jurisdiction uses to ensure that the judgment is valid. Basically, go to the court where you got your judgment and tell them you need a certified copy of it. (In this age of pandemic, we have seen some judgments get registered without this step, but the better practice is to send a judgment with more than just a signature on it.). The creditor also needs to supply the Illinois attorney with an affidavit stating the name, and last known address of the debtor and the creditor. That is all that needs to be done from the creditor’s standpoint.

When we get that information we prepare the petition to register the foreign judgment, the cover sheet, all requisite notices, filing the appropriate documents and generally complying with the terms of the statute. We do this all the time. After receiving notice, the debtor can seek to stay enforcement on limited grounds. To be honest, we have never seen that done.

It usually takes about a week before the filings are completed and processed and then the creditor gets an Illinois case number which allows it to unleash the arsenal of enforcement techniques available by Illinois law (liens, citations, wage garnishments etc). We call these supplemental proceedings and they are governed by 735 ILCS 5/2-1402 and Supreme Court Rule 277.

Our favorite of these is the Third Party Citation to Discover Assets. If you know where the debtor has a financial relationship in Illinois (i.e. bank, brokerage account, betting app), we can serve that account and it freezes twice the amount of the judgment. The good part about that is the funds can be frozen before the creditor receives notice. Once that happens, we usually get a call about settling. If we do not, we move the court to “turnover” the funds to the creditor.

If we do not know where the assets are, we introduce our clients to a private detective who can run an asset search. From there, we can run the citation to applicable third parties.

A lot of creditor’s rights attorneys will simply file a Citation to Discover Assets to the defendant. In our humble opinion, this leaves a lot from a strategic standpoint. This technique simply asked defendants to tell the creditor where their money is. This can be a big waste of time because defendants are not all that forthright about stating that they engaged in a fraudulent transfer.

Moreover, Defendants that do not pay their bills rarely show in court. The attorney then has to obtain a rule to show cause why the Defendant should not be held in contempt of court and personally serve that order (which is not easy.) If the Defendant does not show again, the attorney gets a body attachment or bench warrant. After all that, if the Defendant gets pulled over, you may get a chance to take his deposition to see what assets he/she will admit to having. Chances are he will not be forthcoming and all assets will be transferred. Citations to defendants are costly and rarely result in client satisfaction.

If you need help with enforcing your out of state judgment, contact me directly at