Frequently, I hear that people expect to be paid when they receive an order from the Court. Unfortunately, most people don’t know that an “order” to be paid is different than a “judgment.” An order to pay is simply that: an order for one party (the debtor) to pay another party (the creditor). However, only when that “order” to pay is reduced to a “judgment” can a party take steps such as garnishments and liens to collect the money that is owed.

When you find yourself in a small or large (differences explained below) claim case against a debtor it is important to ask the Judge to give you monetary relief in the form of a “judgment.” Sometimes, even when you request a judgment in your favor, the Court may decline to give you a judgment and instead give the debtor a certain amount of time to pay before having a judgment on their record.  And often times, in landlord-tenant court, the Judge doesn’t give the landlord a judgment but rather only an eviction if the tenant doesn’t pay by a certain date.

Still, it is beneficial to always request a judgment from the onset. Furthermore, it is important to begin the post-judgment collections process as soon as legally possible while the debtor’s information is still relevant such as their location, employment, assets and so forth. If you do not receive a judgment at the time the Court orders the debtor to pay you, be sure to request the monetary order to be reduced to judgment when the requisite time passes.

Filing a Small Claim Case vs. a Large Claim Case in Maryland

  • Small claim case: A $5,000 or less balance due and is filed in the District Court of Maryland. No “discovery” (questions regarding facts and documents) is allowed.
  • Large claim case: A $5,001 – $30,000 balance due and is filed in the District Court of Maryland. “Discovery” is allowed and encouraged. If you’re seeking more than $30,000 then you, the creditor, would need to file in the Circuit Court.

Why Should You Request a Judgment?

Only when you receive a judgment can you obtain the following types of relief:

  • Garnishments on wages,
  • Garnishments of Bank accounts, and other property
  • Liens on real property,
  • Forced Sale (Sherriff’s sale) of real property
  • Judgment appearing on the Debtor’s credit report  (note that only when there is a judgment imposed by Circuit Court or when a judgment is imposed by District Court and then enrolled in Circuit Court does the judgment become a part of the debtor’s credit report)

Contact the Attorneys at Andalman & Flynn to Enforce Your Judgments

The attorneys at Andalman & Flynn are very experienced at obtaining and enforcing judgments, and we have an excellent success rate of turning judgments into money. We are often hired by other attorneys to enforce the orders and judgments that those attorneys obtained for their clients, and we’ll use our knowledge and years of practice to do the same for you. Call Mary Ellen Flynn for a consultation at 301-563-6685, or send her an email at

Mary Ellen Flynn has over 28 years of experience as a Collections attorney.  She has the highest attorney ratings by both Martindale-Hubbell (“AV Preeiminent) and Avvo (“10”) and has been recognized by Super Lawyers in Maryland every year since 2008. 

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