Enforcement and Revival of Judgments in Illinois

Many business owners mistakenly believe that obtaining a judgment is all that is required to receive payment. Obtaining a judgment and collecting a judgment are two different things, however. Often times a business is forced to begin enforcement proceedings to collect a judgment. If a judgment is old, it may need to be revived before it can be enforced. Illinois law governs the enforcement and resurrection of judgments.

Under Illinois law, judgments have an enforcement time limit of seven years from the date of their entry. According to 735 ILCS 5/12-108, “no judgment shall be enforced after the expiration of seven years from the time the same is rendered...” Even if a judgment is older than seven years though, it is still possible to enforce it but the judgment must be revived first. The same statute allows the 7-year enforcement period to be extended “upon the revival of the [judgment] by a proceeding…” Thus, although a judgment only has an enforcement period of seven years from the date of entry, Illinois law allows a judgment to be enforced for up to twenty-seven years after the judgment’s first entry.

Enforcement Actions

Enforcement proceedings (also known as collection actions) to collect judgments are governed primarily by 735 ILCS 5/2-1402. This statute provides three main tools for enforcing and collecting judgments: (1) the Citation to Discover Assets; (2) wage garnishment proceedings; and (3) non-wage garnishment proceedings.

The most common type of collection action for enforcing a business judgment is the Citation to Discover Assets. It is the dominant post-judgment collection procedure because it can be used to perform any action that could be performed by most all other post-judgment procedures. It can it be used to enter an order that could be entered in a wage garnishment proceeding. Importantly though, it can also be used to obtain information about a judgment debtor’s assets and income sources as well as to accomplish some of the more nuanced collection procedures such as entry of a Charging Order against the distributional interest of the judgment debtor who has an interest in a limited liability company. A Citation to Discover Assets can be used not only to obtain information from the judgment debtor directly but also from third parties, such as banks and employers.

Reviving Older (“Dormant”) Judgments

If a judgment is not enforced within the first seven years after its entry, it is not extinguished (or made permanently uncollectible) but instead becomes “dormant.” While a judgment is dormant, it cannot be enforced, but it is not extinguished. A dormant judgment can exist up to 20 years after entry of the original judgment. If revived, the formerly dormant judgment may be enforced within seven years after its revival. Revival of dormant judgments is governed primarily by 735 ILCS 5/2-1602. Under this statute, “a judgment may be revived by filing a petition to revive the judgment in the 7th year after its entry, or in the 7th year after its last revival, or in the 20th year after its entry, or at any other time within 20 years after its entry if the judgment becomes dormant and by serving the petition and entering a court order for revival.”

A judgment cannot be revived before the seventh year after its entry. During the seventh year following entry, the judgment may be revived if the creditor files a petition to revive the judgment within the same case in which the original judgment was entered. The petition, if granted, extends the enforcement period for the judgment for an additional seven years. A judgment may be revived multiple times. In short, a judgment becomes dormant if not enforced or revived within the first seven years following its entry, but it may be revived at a variety of times within a 20-year period from the entry of the original judgment.

Whether you are a business owner who is seeking to obtain or collect a judgment or you have already obtained a judgment years ago and are now seeking to collect the old judgment, it is important to seek a business litigation attorney with experience with post-judgment collection proceedings and reviving dormant judgments. Super Lawyers named Illinois commercial law trial attorney, Peter Lubin, a Super Lawyer and Illinois business dispute attorney, Patrick Austermuehle, a Rising Star in the Categories of Class Action, Business Litigation, and Consumer Rights Litigation. Lubin Austermuehle’s Illinois business trial lawyers have over thirty years of experience in litigating complex business and commercial disputes, citations to discover assets, collection proceedings, breach of contract, fiduciary fraud, freeze-out and squeeze-out disputes, class action, copyright, non-compete agreement, trademark and libel suits.

Our Elgin and Wilmette business dispute, partnership litigation, and civil litigation lawyers handle emergency business lawsuits involving fiduciary duties, business valuations, self-dealing, trademarks, injunctions, and TROS, covenant not to compete, franchise, distributor and dealer wrongful termination and trade secret lawsuits and many different kinds of business disputes involving shareholders, partnerships, closely held businesses and employee breaches of fiduciary duty. We also assist Chicago and Oak Brook area businesses and business owners who are victims of fraud. You can contact us by calling (630) 333-0333 or our toll-free number (833) 306-4933. You can also contact us online here.

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