Civil Judgments in Virginia: Winning Half of the Battle
In Virginia, Warrants in Debt are used to attempt to recover money that is owed. A Warrant in Debt is filed in General District Court, and must not request more than $25,000.00 in damages. If you have a valid, enforceable contract with a debtor, and the debtor fails to pay you in a timely fashion, then you can sue that person/business for monetary damages. Filing a warrant-in debt is the first step in the process of being paid.
Most plaintiffs do not realize that getting a judgment against the debtor is only one part of the equation before being paid. A judgment is a piece of paper, signed by the judge, which states that the debtor owes you money.
There are ways to get money from a debtor, including garnishment and liens. However, to garnish a debtor’s wages from employment, the creditor (person to whom money is owed) must know where the debtor works. Once a debtor’s wages start being garnished, some debtors will decide to work somewhere else, hoping that the garnishment does not follow them to their next employment. When a debtor changes employment, the creditor must again try to find out where the debtor is employed if he wants to continue garnishing the debtor’s wages.
As evidenced by the previous paragraph, there is a lot more to recovering money than simply getting a judgment against a debtor. There’s a colloquialism that “you can’t squeeze blood out of a turnip.” It means that a person cannot get something from nothing. If the debtor does not have a job, or property, or other financial resources, then a judgment might be all that you get. Part of deciding to sue someone for money is contemplating how you will get that money.