I currently have a recorded judgment against my ex husband for monies owed to me from our divorce. Because he is self employed I can not garnish wages. He makes a healthy income but refuses to pay this debt. I tried putting a levy on his bank accounts but someone else beat me to it and by the time the sheriff served the bank, the accounts were closed.
Recently, his father passed away and he and his sister are sole beneficiaries. His father had a will but he applied for executor with the surrogate court and claimed there was no will. I can't prove this, but I know it. His father was wealthy but most of his money was in retirement type accounts and left my ex husband as sole beneficiary and those accounts do not need to be probated and were not listed as assets. The only asset listed is the father's house, which my ex husband just put up for sale.
My attorney suggests that we may be able to file a lis pendens against the property. Is this an acceptable way to try and collect a judgment? I am assuming that the house is sold from the estate to the buyer and the property will never be in my ex husbands name. So even though I have a recorded judgment, I feel as though I am in jeopardy of the house being sold and my ex getting a huge chuck of money that he will deposit in an account I don't know how to find.
I have served him with an Information Supoena and he has not answered it. So I am in the process of pursing that. What can I ask the courts to do in my motion? A warrant for arrest? Suspend his Drivers License?
So the bottom line is, my ex husband has the money to pay, now how do I get him to do it?
1 Answer from Attorneys
It is unclear what you mean by "recorded judgment." Hopefully, you are referring to the fact that the judgment is "docketed" in Trenton. If this has been done, you would have a "J" number stamped on the judgment. If it has not been docketed or if you are not sure, I would suggest that you make sure it is docketed right away. That way, it will come up in a judgment search that the title company will conduct when the property is sold. Theoretically the title company should run a judgment search against the beneficiaries of the estate despite the fact that it is the estate itself which is selling the property. You are right to be concerned that this may not play out the way it should when the property is sold. Even though the estate is the seller, under NJ law title to real estate vests in the beneficiaries at the moment of death, so theoretically your judgment lien (if the judgment is docketed) runs against your ex-husband as a beneficiary. I would suggest that you keep tabs on the status of sale so you can assert your judgment lien to the title company at the appropriate time if they do not pick it up themselves.
You might consider having the sheriff serve a levy on the administrator of the estate. This may be your ex-husband, but you would be serving it on him in his capacity as administrator. The levy would instruct the estate itself to divert funds to the sheriff that would otherwise be payable to your ex-husband by the estate. You might also want to put the bonding company on notice (you can get this information from the surrogate) since they are bonding the administrator.
You can also make a motion to compel your ex-husband to pay you from self employment earnings since he is self-employed and since there is no employer to do a wage execution.
I won't comment on whether the Lis Pendens would be appropriate under the circumstances that you describe. You need to discuss this with your attorney. Since you have an attorney, you should be discussing all of this with him/her. I hope this helps.
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