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After the Judge Makes a Decision

Options and Steps After a Decision

Motion for Reconsideration

Motion to Set Aside Judgment or Order

Appeals

Options and Steps After a Decision

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What happens after the judge decides a case?

A court case ends with the judge's written decision as to who won. After the court issues the final documents, the parties likely will need to take actions set out in the paperwork. In a case to collect a debt, the court may order one party to pay the other either a lump sum or a specific amount of money according to a payment plan. One party may need to turn over property to the other party.

If the court ordered someone to pay the other money, the judge will usually issue a document called a “judgment” which is necessary to collect the money if the person does not voluntarily pay. The person who receives the judgment is called the judgment creditor. The person who owes the money is called the judgment debtor.

Make sure to read your final paperwork right away to understand what it says. If you want to file something possibly to change the outcome, there are different deadlines depending on the type of action you may take.

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What if the debtor wants more time or wants to pay in installments?

In many instances the debtor is willing to pay, but simply needs more time. If both parties agree, they can sign an agreement to make installment payments to pay off the judgment:

Both parties must sign the form, and then the judge must approve it. As long as the debtor makes the payments according to the agreement, the creditor will not be allowed to use the execution process to collect the money owed. If the debtor stops making payments, the creditor can begin the execution process, usually by filing an affidavit telling the court that the debtor has failed to pay along with any other steps required in the agreement.

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What does the Plaintiff (creditor) do after winning a debt case?

If the Plaintiff wins the case, either through a default judgment, a trial, a Motion for Summary Judgment, or a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings, the judge will usually issue a judgment for the amount the Defendant must pay. The Defendant (now called the debtor) can simply pay, the parties can work out a payment plan, or the Plaintiff (now called the creditor) can begin the execution process by getting a writ of execution to collect the money owed by taking funds from the debtor's paycheck, PFD, or bank account. You can read about executing on a judgment by reading “Collecting a Debt: Executing on a Judgment.”

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What does the Defendant (debtor) do after the Plaintiff (creditor) wins a debt case?

If the Plaintiff wins the case, either through a default judgment, a trial, a Motion for Summary Judgment, or a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings, the judge will usually issue a judgment for the amount the Defendant (now called the “debtor”) must pay. The debtor is supposed to pay the judgment.

If the debtor cannot pay all at once, the debtor can ask if the Plaintiff (now called the “creditor”) is willing to agree to a payment plan. If the creditor will not agree, the creditor may begin the execution process by getting a writ of execution to seize property or collect the money owed by taking funds from the debtor's paycheck, PFD, or bank account.

The debtor can learn about the steps the creditor may take to collect the judgment by reading Execution Procedure: Judgment Creditor Booklet, CIV-550 PDF.

When the entire judgment has been paid, either because the debtor paid the judgment or because the creditor has collected through the execution process, the debtor is entitled to a Satisfaction of Judgment. You can read more about Satisfactions of Judgment.

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How does the creditor get the money if the defendant doesn't pay?

Two common ways a creditor gets the money from the defendant is by garnishing their wages or taking their PFD. The creditor can also seize property or sweep the defendant's bank account.

Garnishing Wages

Sometimes a creditor will ask the court to order the debtor's employer to garnish the debtor's wages, which means some of the debtor's pay will go directly to the creditor. The employer will use a formula to determine how much of the wages go to the creditor. The employer will give the debtor/employee a copy of the form with the formula on it. If the debtor thinks the calculation is wrong or if the debtor's earnings alone support a household of people, the debtor can file:

You can learn more about claiming that wages are exempt by reading Judgment Debtor Booklet, CIV-511 PDF.

PFDs

Sometimes a creditor will ask the court to order some or all of the debtor's permanent fund dividend (PFD) to go to the creditor. If the creditor takes the wrong amount, or the wrong person's PFD (for example if the creditor takes a child's PFD when the parent owes the judgment), the person who lost their PFD by mistake can file:

You can learn more about what portion of a PFD is exempt by reading Judgment Debtor Booklet, CIV-511 PDF.

Judgment Debtor Hearing

Another step a creditor can take is to ask the court to order the debtor to appear for a Judgment Debtor Hearing, which is a hearing where the creditor learns more about the debtor's assets. You can read more about Judgment Debtor Hearings.

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What is a Satisfaction of Judgment and is the creditor required to give one to the debtor?

A Satisfaction of Judgment is a legal document that a creditor fills out when the creditor is done collecting money from the debtor on the judgment. Usually, this is because the debtor has paid the full amount, but the parties may agree to some other arrangement where the debtor pays some of the debt and the creditor fills out the Satisfaction of Judgment. If the creditor has placed a lien on the debtor's real estate by recording the judgment with a Recorder's Office, the information about where the judgment was recorded must be included on the Satisfaction of Judgment. If the debtor pays the entire judgment directly to the creditor in cash (which means the creditor does not have to follow the execution procedure), the creditor is required by law to file a Satisfaction of Judgment with the Court immediately and serve it on the debtor. If the debtor pays the entire judgment in any way other than cash, the creditor must file the Satisfaction of Judgment and serve it on the debtor within 10 days of payment. If the creditor is the State of Alaska, the Satisfaction of Judgment must be filed within 15 days for a cash payment or within 30 days if payment is not in cash. If the judgment was paid through the execution process (rather than the debtor voluntarily paying it), the debtor may write the creditor and request that the creditor file a Satisfaction of the Judgment and serve a copy on the debtor. If the creditor does not do so, the debtor may file a motion and ask the court to order the creditor to file and serve a Satisfaction of Judgment. If the debtor must go to court to get a Satisfaction of Judgment, the debtor can ask the court to order the creditor to pay for all expenses or harm related to failing to file a Satisfaction of Judgment (for example, attorney fees) as well as a $100 penalty. You can read that statute about Satisfaction of Judgments (See AS 09.30.300).

You can use:

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Can the debtor protect property from being seized?

The debtor may have exempt property, which is property or money that is protected by law from being taken to pay the judgment. To protect the exempt property right after the creditor begins the execution process, the debtor must file:

You can learn more about claiming that money and property is exempt and important deadlines by reading Judgment Debtor Booklet, CIV-511 PDF.

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What are my options if I am not happy with the judge's decision?

Sometimes one or both parties in the case are unhappy with the final decision in the case. It is important to understand that judges make decisions according to legal factors that are set out in the law and previous decisions from the Alaska Supreme Court that interpret the law. If you think the judge made a mistake that caused the outcome you don't like, you may have options to file something in court to address the issue. Be aware that just not liking the outcome does not mean the judge made a mistake. Also be aware that there are deadlines to take most actions and if you do not file the appropriate document in time, the court might not accept it. Read below to see the options and timelines.

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Motion for Reconsideration

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What is a Motion for Reconsideration?

It is a request to the trial judge asking to reconsider a specific ruling. The Motion for Reconsideration must:

You can file these 2 documents together:

The Motion for Reconsideration must be 5 pages or less, including the motion and any attachments. Make sure to file the original and provide the other side (or their attorney if represented) with a copy, which is called serving a motion. You can read more about serving the other party.

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What are the reasons to ask the court to reconsider its ruling?

There are 4 reasons for reconsideration:

1. The court has overlooked, misapplied or failed to consider a statue, decision or principle directly controlling. (This means the court made a mistake in applying the law to the case.)

For example, in a debt case for a bounced check where the judge decided in favor of the Plaintiff (the business that received the check): If the business did not first send a written demand for payment after receiving the bounced check as required by the law (AS 09.68.115), the Defendant could file a Motion for Reconsideration stating that the judge misapplied AS 09.68.115.

2. The court has overlooked or misconceived some material fact or proposition of law. (This means the court got the important fact wrong.)

For example, in a debt case where the Plaintiff requested payment of a $100 loan, but the court ordered payment of a $1,000 loan: the Motion for Reconsideration would state that the judge used the wrong value for the debt.

3. The court has overlooked or misconceived a material question in the case. (This means the court misunderstood what you were asking for in your case or in a motion.)

For example, in a debt case where the judge granted the other party's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings, stating you did not file an Opposition, but you did file an Opposition on time: your Motion for Reconsideration would state the court overlooked your Opposition.

4. The law applied in the ruling was changed by a later court decision or statute. (This means the court applied a rule or law that changed.)

For example, if a law changed at or near the time of the decision, and the court was not aware of it, you can file a Motion for Reconsideration asking the judge to apply the new law.

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What is the deadline to file a Motion for Reconsideration?

You must file the motion within 10 days after the date shown in the clerk's certificate of distribution on the written order. You must also provide the specific reason the judge should reconsider the ruling:

It is important to act promptly. If you do not file the motion to reconsider within 10 days, the judge can deny it, even if the reason for the request is a valid one.

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Does the other side get to file a response to a Motion for Reconsideration?

The other side files a response only if the court requests it, which usually happens. If the other side files a Motion for Reconsideration, do not file a response until the court tells you to file one, likely in a written order or notice from the court. You can read more about how to respond to or oppose a motion.

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Will there be a hearing on the Motion for Reconsideration?

The court generally will not schedule a hearing to decide the Motion for Reconsideration, so the court will decide based on the written Motion and any response.

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When will the court decide the Motion for Reconsideration?

The court will either:

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What happens after the Motion for Reconsideration is decided?

If the Motion for Reconsideration is granted, the judge will reconsider the ruling and either issue a new ruling or request more information from the parties.

If the Motion for Reconsideration is not granted or is denied, the parties are supposed to follow the challenged ruling and the party who benefited from the original order or judgment can enforce it.

Either party can decide to appeal the decision about the Motion for Reconsideration if they believe the judge made a legal mistake. Learn more about filing an appeal.

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Motion to Set Aside Judgment or Order

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What is a Motion to Set Aside Judgment or Order?

A Motion to Set Aside Judgment or Order is used to ask the court to set aside or "undo" a judgment or final order in a case, and to allow the case to move ahead as if the judgment had not been made.

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What reasons can set aside the judgment?

There are several reasons to ask the court to set aside a judgment.

Civil Rule 60(a) provides that a party can file a Motion to Set Aside the Judgment or Order if the court made a clerical mistake or accidentally left something out of a document.

Civil Rule 60(b) specifies the reasons the court may set aside a judgment which include:

Examples of reasons under Civil Rule 60(b) include:

You can file these 2 documents together:

Make sure to file the original and provide the other side (or their attorney if represented) with a copy that is called serving a motion. You can read more about serving the other party.

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What is the deadline to file a Motion to Set Aside Judgment or Order?

You must file the motion within a "reasonable time" after the judgment. The judge decides what a reasonable amount of time is, and it will depend on the circumstances in the case. Parties should clearly explain why the time in which they filed the motion is reasonable.

In addition to the reasonable time requirement, a party asking to set aside the judgment for one of the reasons listed below must do so within 1 year of the judgment:

It is important to act promptly. If you do not file the Motion to Set Aside within a reasonable time, the judge can deny it, even if the reason for the request is valid.

Make sure to file the original and provide the other side (or their attorney if represented) with a copy that is called serving a motion. You can read more about serving the other party.

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Does the other side get to file a response to a Motion to Set Aside Judgment or Order?

The other side can file a response just like to any other kind of motion. You can read more about how to respond to or oppose a motion.

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What happens after the Motion to Set Aside Judgment or Order is decided?

If the Motion to Set Aside Judgment or Order is granted, the parties then proceed through the steps in the case as if the judgment or order had not been issued.

If the Motion to Set Aside Judgment or Order is not granted or is denied, the parties are supposed to follow the Judgment or Order and the party who benefited from the original order or judgment can enforce it.

Either party can decide to appeal the decision about the Motion to Set Aside if they believe the judge made a legal mistake. You can read more about filing an appeal.

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Rev. 11 March 2019
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