Examination of Judgment Debtor and Third Parties

An examination can be used to identify property owned or controlled by the judgment debtor or a third person (e.g., a non-debtor spouse), to learn about property the debtor might obtain in the future, and to require the debtor or third person to turn over property to the levying officer.

When served with an examination order, the judgment debtor has to appear in court (or before a referee) to furnish information to aid in enforcement of the money judgment.

A third person (e.g., a non-debtor spouse) might be ordered to appear for examination upon the judgment creditor's application to show they are in possession or control of property in which the judgment debtor has an interest or is indebted to the debtor for more than $250.

Also, any person with knowledge leading to enforcement of the judgment (e.g., debtor's bookkeeper, accountant or non-debtor spouse) can be subpoenaed to testify before the court or a referee in the same manner as a trial witness.

If an order to appear for an examination is properly served (i.e., personally served by a sheriff, marshal, person appointed by the court or a registered process server) and the examinee fails to appear, the court can issue an arrest warrant requiring the examinee to explain the nonappearance in court. If it is found that the examinee did not have good cause for failing to appear, the court must award the judgment creditor reasonable attorney fees incurred for the examination proceeding.

At the conclusion of the examination, the court may order that a judgment debtor's interest in nonexempt property is put towards satisfying the judgment. These turnover orders can also be authorized when an examination of a third person reveals that the person possesses or controls property in which the debtor has an interest or owes over $250 to the debtor. The court can order the examinee to deliver the property or funds to the levying officer.

There is a maximum five-day contempt of court sentence that the court can impose for willful refusal to divulge information, or until the judgment debtor does divulge it.

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