If you are sued for money in court, and you lose, there will be a judgment against you. The person who sued you can then collect that judgment from your wages or bank account. This could cause your bank account to be frozen.
If this has happened to you, you can take the steps below to unfreeze your bank account.
1. Go to your scheduled court date, or file a motion to get a court date
If you have a court date already scheduled, you can wait for that date to unfreeze your bank account. Your court date should be listed as the “return date” in your court papers.
If you do not have a court date, or you need your bank account unfrozen more quickly, you can file a motion to get an earlier court date. Explain in your motion that you are claiming your exemptions and need your bank account unfrozen. If you write the word "emergency" on your motion, you can probably get a date more quickly. Be sure to explain in the motion why it is an emergency that you get your bank account unfrozen. For example, you need to pay rent or other bills.
2. Get your line number
You will find a bulletin board outside of the courtroom with a list of all the scheduled court cases for that day. Search the case list for your court case. There will be a number to the left of your case called the line number. Remember this number. If your case is not on this list, you will need to step into the courtroom and speak to the clerk.
3. Check in with the clerk
Step into the courtroom and wait in line to speak to the clerk at the front of the room to the right of the judge’s bench. Tell the clerk your name and the line number for your case.
4. Wait for your case to be called and step up
After you have checked in, wait in the back of the courtroom until your case is called by the clerk. When your case is called, step up to the front of the courtroom. State your name. Tell the judge which exemption you are claiming:
- $4,000 of any property (this is called the “wildcard” exemption because it can cover so many things)
- Money in a pension plan or IRA
5. Get a copy of the order
If the judge decides that the money in your account is exempt, he will sign the order lifting the freeze. Do not leave the courtroom without a copy of this order signed by the judge.
6. Deliver a copy to your bank
Bring a copy of the order to your bank. They should unfreeze your account and let you access your funds.
If your bank continues to deny you access to your account, ask to speak to the bank manager.
Updated: February 2018