Judgement Debtor Examinations
A judgment debtor examination is one way a creditor can seek to collect a debt. The exam can only happen after a debtor has been sued and a court has determined that the debt is owed. At a judgment debtor examination you are put under oath and asked about your finances and your ability to pay the debt. You cannot be put in jail for failing to pay the debt. As long as you speak the truth, you walk away free after a few minutes of questioning.
If the time of the examination poses a hardship for you, the creditor’s attorney may agree to change the day or time of the exam. It the attorney does not, you could seek to file a motion for continuance with the Court.
If you fail to appear for a judgment debtor examination, you could be cited for contempt of court or an arrest warrant could be issued for you. There is no good reason to ignore a summons to appear at a judgment debtor examination.
If a warrant has been issued and you are stopped by the police for some other reason, you could find yourself being held in jail until an examination can be scheduled. This could mean missing work or school.
If you missed an exam, you should call the attorney to ask to reschedule as soon as possible. Most attorneys will be willing to do this, either at a future court appearance or at their office.
After the examination is over, it is important that the order for the arrest warrant be withdrawn. If you are in court, ask the judge or magistrate to issue an order to withdraw the warrant. If the attorney conducts the examination somewhere else, ask him to file it and send you a copy or give it to you to file personally. It is also a good idea to carry a copy of this order with you to show the police if needed.
If you can, it is a good idea to make payment arrangements on your debt with the creditor’s attorney. Creditors can garnish your wages, attach a bank account and take other action to collect the debt. Most will accept payment arrangements.
For more information see CLAS’ other fact sheets:
Avoiding Bank Account Attachment
Bank Account Attachment in Ohio
Exempt Property Under Ohio Law
Wage Garnishment in Ohio
What to do When Creditors are Harassing You
This information is meant to give you general information and not to give you specific legal advice.
Prepared by Community Legal Aid Services, Inc. Information updated February 2012. CE-02-F015-CLAS