What is a "Notice to Judgment Debtor or Obligor"?

If you've received a letter with language similar or identical to the below, you are being put on notice that your money is at risk of being seized by a judgment creditor. To satisfy due process standards, New York law (CPLR § 5222) requires that the below notice be sent to you within one year of the creditor's service of a restraining notice on your bank. A restraining notice, signed by the judgment creditor's attorney only, operates to "freeze" or block access to your money.

Since the below sources of income are "exempt" (shielded from creditors), New York has placed the burden on creditors to notify you of these exempt sources and how to protect them.

A creditor's failure to send this notice would "necessitate vacating the restraining notice."[1] You need to act promptly if you have received one of these notices. It's not too late. I would be delighted to assist you.

NOTICE TO JUDGMENT DEBTOR OR OBLIGOR

Money or property belonging to you may have been taken or held in order to satisfy a judgment or order, which has been entered against you. Read this, carefully.

YOU MAY BE ABLE TO GET YOUR MONEY BACK

State and federal laws prevent certain money or property from being taken to satisfy judgments or orders. Such money or property is said to be “exempt.” The following is a partial list of money, which may be exempt:

  1. Supplemental Security Income (SSI);
  2. Social Security;
  3. Public assistance (welfare);
  4. Spousal support, maintenance (alimony), or child support;
  5. Unemployment benefits;
  6. Disability benefits security income, (SSI);
  7. Workers’ compensation benefits;
  8. Public or private pensions;
  9. Veterans benefits;
  10. Ninety percent of your wages or salary earned in the last 60 days;
  11. Twenty-five hundred dollars of any bank account containing statutorily exempt payments that were deposited electronically or by direct deposit within the last 45 days, including but not limited to your Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, veterans benefits, public assistance, workers’ compensation, unemployment insurance, public or private pensions, railroad retirement benefits, black lung benefits, or child support payments;
  12. Railroad retirement; and
  13. Black lung benefits.

If you think that any of your money that has been taken or held is exempt, you must act promptly because the money may be applied to the judgment or order. If you claim that any of your money that has been taken or held is exempt, you may contact the person sending this notice.

Also, YOU MAY CONSULT AN ATTORNEY, INCLUDING ANY FREE LEGAL SERVICES ORGANIZATION IF YOU QUALIFY. You can also go to court without an attorney to get your money back. Bring this notice with you when you go. You are allowed to try to prove to a judge that your money is exempt from collection under CPLR 5222-a, 5239, and 5240. If you do not have a lawyer, the clerk of the court may give you forms to help you prove your account contains exempt money that the creditor cannot collect. The law (CPLR 5239 and 5240) provides a procedure for determination of a claim to an exemption.



[1] Friedman v. Mayerhoff, 156 Misc. 2d 295 (NY Civ Ct 1992)(holding that where the judgment debtors were not served with the required notice of their rights regarding a restraining notice and execution on several bank accounts, the restraining notice and execution should be vacated despite the fact that the bank advised the judgment debtors of the action in enough time for the debtors to commence legal action to protect their rights and thus suffered no actual prejudice).

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