When it comes to recovering your judgment, the first thing you should try is bank levies. That said, you should make sure you promptly detect where your judgment debtors bank. Although most judgment debtors no longer operate with safe deposit boxes (or safety deposit boxes, SDBs), a good number of them still adopt this technique. However, using bank levies may demand a written order issued by a Court. This article will inform you about ways to recover your money from a judgment debtor. 

Who Is a Judgment Debtor? 

A judgment debtor is a person or firm ordered to pay a sum of money following a court judgment or ruling. A judgment debt is incurred when a Court gives a decision regarding monetary damages. The losing party is referred to as a judgment debtor and is required to pay the sum of money designated by the Court. Simultaneously, the winners of the ruling are the judgment creditors and are entitled to receive the amount of money that the Court has ordered. 

How to Retrieve Judgment Funds

The creditor usually takes additional legal steps in line with the Court order. For instance, the Court normally assists the creditor by summoning the judgment debtor to a hearing where they are expected to list out their assets. If the debtor has assets sufficient to settle the judgment debt, the Court may order him to relinquish some properties equivalent to the judgment debt owed. The debtor is also given a specific period during which they are expected to pay up; else, their properties will be seized in a process known as garnishment. 

If the judgment debtor does not have sufficient assets to settle the debt inquired, the creditor can claim any safe deposit box registered in the debtor’s name. However, before the safety deposit box can be accessed, the creditor must check with the debtor’s bank to certify that the debtor does not have sufficient funds to repay the judgment debt. If the debtor has enough money to pay, the bank with directives from the Court can transfer the debtor’s money to the creditor’s account. But if the debtor does not have enough money in his account, the creditor is free to lay claim to a safe deposit box deposited in the debtor’s name if there is any. 

For a creditor to successfully claim a judgment debtor’s safe deposit box, specific rules must be followed, and some other steps must be implemented. First of all, the creditor should know that when laying claim to a debtor’s safe deposit box, he does so without knowing the value of the box’s content. Hence, if the value of the box’s content is not up to the judgment debt, the creditor risks losing a fortune. While on the other hand, if the value of the content therein is more than the judgment debt, it is to the creditor’s advantage. Once the creditor has been cleared to claim the debtor’s safe deposit box, the debtor can no longer take anything from the box, except there are contents in the box that belongs to a third party. If that is the case, the third party must file a third-party claim with the necessary authorities before they can exempt their properties in the box from those to be handed over to the judgment creditor. 


Most creditors often look forward to the option of claiming the judgment defaulter’s safety deposit box, among other repayment methods. It is understandable because most times, they get lucky with the box content’s value. However, when opting for a safe deposit box option, creditors must evaluate the risk carefully to avoid huge losses.