Thank you For Trusting DCI With Your Case

Our aim is to make this process easy and produce the results  you expect.

As your claim progresses you will be sent periodic updates when there are relevant status changes. You can always request updates from our office however by emailing or by calling us at 407-374-0000.

You can track the activity of your cases in real time as well using your client dashboard. We understand that you may be new to the legal process, we have broken down the basic steps of litigation below with some of the most frequently asked questions to help you follow the case as it moves forward. 

If It Does Not Equate, Litigate

The Steps of Litigation

The Suit is Filed With the Court Clerk

After creating the Court file, service copies of the summons and complaint are prepared and forwarded to the Sheriff’s office or process server or mailed, depending on the method of service desired and requested. 

What is Filing a Petition?

Filing a petition, docketing the complaint and initiating suit are all interchangeable terms used to explain the process of filing the initial action in a lawsuit. 

Why Does My Complaint Not Specify My Fees?

The complaint is the earliest action filed in a lawsuit. At this stage in the lawsuit the actual damages are not yet know or proven. This is why most complaints will ask for ambiguous requests like “reasonable attorney fees” or “Other Equitable Belief”.

How Long Does It Take For The Suit To Be Filed?

Once a claim is incepted into our legal department, suit is typically filed within 60 days. Determining factors are the complexity of the case, the documentation provided, responses from the debtor in pre-suit demands and legal requirements such as the FDCPA notice period. 

The Debtor is Served With the Court Papers

The Debtor has a specific period to respond to the complaint, typically 20-30 days. That time begins on the day the Debtor is actually served. 

What Are Substitution and Publication Serive?

Substitution service is the process of serving an eligible individual known to the debtor. Publication service is the process of publishing an advertisement in a local publication to enter service. Both processes usually require a special court order. 

How Long Does Service Take?

Service is usually entered between 30 and 90 days of the summons being issued. Variables associated with service are the backlog of cases with the court, how accessible the debtor is and knowing the proper location of the debtor.

What If My Debtor Cannot Be Served?

For the case to progress past the initial phase the debtor must be served. Fortunately the courts offer reasonable amounts of time to serve a debtor. There are also different methods that can be used to enter service. 

What Happens Next

If the Debtor fails to file a response, called an “Answer”, to the complaint in the time specified by the Court, our attorney will prepare and file a “Motion to Enter Default” with the Court and will ask that a judgment be entered in your favor based upon the Debtor’s failure to respond to the complaint. If the Debtor does file an answer, our attorney will appear at any scheduled hearings or conferences and fully represent you. Many times, cases settle at preliminary hearing and you may be asked to approve an offered settlement or asked to give our attorney specific authority to settle your case. 

What Is an Answer?

If the debtor answers the complaint after being served this means that they have responded to the allegations contesting some or all of your position. If a debtor files an answer the case will move into discovery.

What is a Counterclaim or Cross Complaint?

A counterclaim or cross complaint is an action the recipient of a summons files in response to a complaint denying the allegations while simultaneously bringing their own complaint alleging damages they incurred. 

What Is a Default?

A default is entered when a party in a lawsuit does not respond after being properly served. If a default is entered the court may enter a judgment against the party that did not respond for failing to answer the complaint.


These are specific requests by way of questions or requests to see documents, perform tests, or examine some item germane to the issues in the suit. You may be asked to assist our office in formulating our responses to such discovery, or you may have specific things you think are important and want to obtain from the Debtor. 

What Is Discovery?

Discovery is the process in which parties in a lawsuit can ask questions and ask for documentation from the opposing party or third parties that is relevant to the case. Litigants are entitled to discovery so that they can prepare their prosecution or defense of the case.

What is a Deposition?

A deposition is a process in which witnesses are questioned under oath prior to trial to better develop facts and information relating to the case. Depositions can also limit the scope of questions that can be asked at a later point in trial. 

How Long Does Discovery Take?

Discovery is not a quick process. Courts will often open up discovery from 90 to 180 days. Even then if the parties have not completed discovery this time period can be extended further. The court will ensure that both parties have had the appropriate time to prepare their respective cases.

Summary Judgment

At the appropriate time, our attorney will prepare and file a “Motion for Summary Judgment”, a proceeding that asks the Court to enter a judgment as a matter of law in your favor. You may be asked to provide additional testimony by way of affidavit to assist us in preparing that motion.

Do Summary Judgments Succeed?

Summary judgments can be an effective tool to resolve a case when the facts overwhelmingly support the position of a party in a suit. Courts will allow summary judgments to clear frivolous actions and defenses from the court system. 

When Is a Summary Judgment Appropriate?

Summary judgment is only appropriate when the facts of the case clearly support the complaint or answer of one of the parties. This is usually done after or during discovery because the facts of the case will not be known until discovery is completed.

When Is a Summary Judgment Inappropriate?

Courts will give a lot of latitude to parties to prove their claims on merit. If there are tangible disputes the court will want to enter a verdict based on a trial. Even if the case may seem cut and dry to one party, any disputes that could be perceived to be real would likely prevent a summary judgment action from prevailing. 

Pretrial Actions

If the case is not resolved through negotiation, discovery or motions, the case will be set for trial. Before the trial however there are certain hearings or actions that may be available or required.

What is Mediation?

The court may decide to order the parties to mediate the case before they will set the case for trial. Mediation is a more informal presentment of each parties arguments in front of a neutral mediator. While a resolution is not required to be reached, it is often a cost effective method for parties to resolve the case without continuing litigation.

What Is a Pretrial Conference?

A pretrial conference is a hearing set prior to the trial. A pretrial conference will involve both attorneys finalizing their witness lists, exhibit lists and hear expectations and concerns of the presiding judge. Pretrial conferences are important in ensuring that the trial process moves forward smoothly. 

What is a Pretrial Brief?

Pretrial briefs are legal arguments filed by the attorneys on both sides when there are complex questions surrounding the evidence being submitted in a case or the application of laws or case law in navigating certain positions. These are not explanations of facts or testimony as to “what happened” but discussions on how the court should allow or interpret what is being presented by the court in accordance with jurisprudence


At trial, upon meeting the burden of proof, a judgment will be entered against the Debtor for the funds due you, or in such other amount as the Court sees fit. In the unlikely event you do not prevail, you, just as the Debtor have a right to appeal the Court’s ruling. That appeal time is typically about 30 days. Nothing can be done to enforce the judgment during that time, although interest does begin accruing on the judgment when it is entered. After entry, the judgment is recorded or filed in the county where the Debtor lives. This acts as a lien on all of the Debtor’s property, preventing the Debtor from disposing of his property. 

Do I Need To Be There?

You will need to have a witness present for trial. If you do not have a witness that can testify to your position then you will not prevail in trial. Some courts will allow parties to be held over video conferencing systems. Some courts however do require a physical appearance for the witnesses.

How Long Do Trials Take?

Trial durations vary based on the complexity of the case. Most simple civil trials are conducted within half a day. If there are numerous witnesses, legal issues in question or volumes of evidence to review trials can go days and weeks in the most complex cases. 

Can I Recoup Travel Costs?

Litigants are required to bear the cost of attending a trial. While you may be entitled to recover attorneys fees, costs and interest the incidental costs incurred by the parties are their responsibility.

Enforcing Judgments

One of the most effective actions a creditor can take when trying to collect a judgment is a garnishment. Typically speaking there are two types of garnishments that can be filed, a wage garnishment which withholds funds from a debtors paycheck and a bank garnishment which freezes money in a bank account. While these can be use full tools knowing how to properly file these actions is necessary for a successful collection.

Wage Garnishments

Wage garnishments allow creditors to force a portion of a debtors wages to be trapped to pay towards the outstanding judgment. A wage garnishment is not an action filed against the debtor but is rather served directly to their employer. Wage garnishments are typically only effective against debtors who are W2 employees. Self employed and 1099 contractors are usually not affected by wage garnishments as they themselves would be responsible for the withholding and if they are already avoiding paying the judgment they will likely not honor the garnishment. When a garnishment is successful there are maximum amounts that are allowed to be trapped. Federal law caps the withholding amount to 25% of a debtors pay per pay period regardless of the amount of money they make. Additionally most states have minimum pay requirements so the amount being withheld can be less than 25%. Some states also have exemptions that prevent the primary breadwinner in a home from garnishments or those that are the primary guardian of someone who is disabled. Wage garnishments should be considered however in any judgment enforcement action because they generate a steady stream of payments against the debt owed.

Bank Garnishments

Judgment creditors can also file a bank garnishment which effectively freezes funds that a debtor holds in their bank account. Once frozen creditors can file a turnover motion which forces the funds trapped to be released directly to the creditor. Like a wage garnishment, this action is initiated against the bank itself and not the debtor. Some states do have restrictions on how much can be withheld from a debtors bank account with consumers typically having an amount that is exempt. Businesses however typically are afforded no exemptions meaning their entire account can be frozen up to the judgment amount. Bank garnishments are a very effective tool however they must be handled with proper considerations. As the action is filed against the bank itself, the bank may request attorney fees as they incur legal fees answering the garnishment when an account is not found by the debtor at that institution. 

A common tactic imposed by creditors attempting to collect on a judgment is a writ of execution or a property levy. In different states these actions are referred to by different names but in essence they allow a sheriff or court officer in the debtor jurisdiction of the judgment to seize property to be sold or liquidated against the judgment. 

The process of actually filing these actions varies state to state. Some states it is as simple as filing the paperwork and the order is issued while in some states plaintiffs must have the writ issued as a result of a hearing. Once the writ is issued the constable or sheriff will then begin their efforts to try to collect. What property is fair game depends on a number of factors. Most states have exemptions for consumers that do not allow a primary residence, primary vehicle and living essentials such as appliances and home computers to be subject to enforcement. Heirloom articles may also be exempt from enforcement as well if the debtor can provide provenance of the items history. 

If executable items are found they are typically sold at a sheriffs sale. Successfully conducting a property levy can be expensive as the plaintiff usually needs to pay a bond prior to the sheriff executing against property. Additionally when items are trapped they have to be advertised in the sheriffs sale and the sheriff themselves will have fees that they charge to conduct the levy and sale. 

Property levys involving businesses are similar but there are usually fewer exemptions protecting businesses. When a sheriff conducts a levy on a business they can also do a “till tap” where they basically withhold the funds from the cash registers and credit card terminals the day they conduct the levy. They can also seize commercial equipment to satisfy a judgment. 

While these actions can be effective there are limitations and requirements that must be met for a levy to be successful. Many levys fail because title to the property cannot be clearly established. This is common when a judgment is against a person who lives with a spouse not named on the judgment. As the spouse can claim ownership of the items and title is not verified by a serial number or state issued title record it can be nearly impossible to determine ownership. Likewise business equipment that is rented or leased or is encumbered by a UCC lien is typically also off limits from a property levy. 

When other judgment enforcement remedies fail or assets cannot be located to enforce upon, creditors can file a debtors examination. A debtors examination sometimes referred to as a deposition in aid of execution is a hearing where the debtor is required to appear in court and testify under oath as to their financial condition. Prior to the hearing the attorney for the plaintiff will provide a list of required items that the debtor is required to bring to the hearing. If the debtor fails to bring these items or intentionally omits items, the court can hold them in contempt. 

The process of filing a debtors exam can be complex. In order for the debtors exam to be conducted the plaintiff must serve the defendant with a summons and the order for the debtors examination. If the debtor is not served the hearing will not transpire. Often times even after being served the debtor will still fail to appear. If a debtor does not appear the creditor must file a motion to compel the debtor to appear at another scheduled hearing. As in the first circumstance this must also be served against the debtor. If the motion to compel is granted the debtor must appear. If they fail to appear or do not bring the required documents the court the creditor can file a motion for contempt. If granted the court will hold the debtor in contempt which will create a writ of bodily attachment. This means that the debtor can be arrested as a result of the contempt order.

The rules regarding a contempt order vary state to state. Some judges are opposed to issuing these orders while some do so without even scheduling a hearing on the motion. The important thing to remember is that even if the debtor is arrested, they are not being arrested because of the money owed on the judgment, they are being detained as a result of failing to appear at their required hearing or honoring the discovery requests.

When a debtors exam is conducted the attorney for the plaintiff will be able to ask the debtor questions. As judgment debtors will typically be unwilling to volunteer information, attorneys skilled in conducting these hearings will ask less direct questions. Instead of asking “where do you bank”, they will ask “what card or account did you pay your last utility bill from”. Having an attorney that specializes in handling debtors examinations is necessary for any actionable information to be obtained.

When plaintiffs are trying to collect on a judgment, most follow the common enforcement methods such as a debtors exam, property levy or garnishments only to be stuck with nothing more then another bill from their lawyer. 

The truth is some cases require outside of the box thinking in order to get creditors creditors paid. While these tactics can be used in any situation, judgments against celebrities, musicians, politicians, athletes and other high profile individuals typically require these types of actions to yield a favorable result. 

Motion for Assignment

Motions for assignment are a necessary recovery action when dealing with any judgment debtor in the music, influencer or film industries. When a musician or actor signs with a studio they never directly sign an agreement between the artist and the label. There are often shell entities that are the artists production outfit which is then owned by a marketing outfit that is owned by another entity, often multiple levels deep. What an assignment motion does is forces contract funds due on behalf of one entity such as a record label or a clothing retailer to pay the judgment holder instead. When trying to collect from high profile individuals multiple assignment motions are often filed to trap royalties from cosmetic lines, clothing lines and record labels. To often they need to be filed multiple times because funds often pass through multiple shell entities before reaching the actual debtor. Motions for assignment can also be used against corporate debtors. When a company is owed money from another company a creditor can seek an assignment motion that is served to the company that owes the debtor forcing any accounts payable due to the debtor company to be redirected to the judgment creditor. 

Regulatory Enforcement

Many creditors with judgments think that the courts are the only outlet for enforcement of a judgment. Often times however regulatory agencies that govern the industry a debtor operates in can be a far greater avenue then the courts. The bottom line is anything done within the courts takes an exuberant amount of time. Most debtors leverage the fact that they can operate even with a judgment over their heads for months because of the time it takes for anything to actually happen. Many regulatory boards require companies however to remain solvent and free of court judgments in order to remain licensed or to renew a professional license. Notifying these regulatory boards of your judgment turns the problem into a now issue for the debtor versus a 6 months down the road issue with the courts. 

Bond Claims

While a judgment is not needed for a creditor to file a bond claim, having the matter already adjudicated makes the process much simpler. Many companies are required to maintain a bond to operate. This is especially true of contractors and trucking companies. By filing a bond claim, the bond company pays the claim to a certain amount and then the rights to recovery the debt or a part of the debt are assigned to them to pursue. Like an insurance policy they are paying because the defendant pays them a premium to hold this bond. Finding the appropriate underwriter for the bond is not always simple as the company that writes the bond is not typically the responsible party that underwrites the bond. While the bond may not pay the full amount of the claim if there is limited coverage it can be a good tactic to realizing money on the judgment quickly.