The Purpose of Texas Turnover Statutes?
The Texas Turnover Statutes work in tandem with the more common post-judgment discovery devices like Interrogatories in Aid of Judgment, Writs of Execution and Writs of Garnishment. The statutes are part of the plan that is suppose to help you, the judgment creditor, gain access to your judgment debtor’s property. Cross, Kieschnick & Co. v. Johnston, 892 S.W.2d 435, 438 (Tex. App.-San Antonio 1994, no writ). Of course, you want the property so that you can apply it’s value toward payment of your judgment. You can find the actual statutes in §§31.002-.0025, 31.010 of the Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code.
When You Should Seek Turnover Relief
A turnover proceeding is most useful in those situations where your judgment debtor owns property that you can’t easily seize by the more typical post-judgment procedures of execution or garnishment. So, you should definitely consider filing for turnover relief if you’ve already tried to seize your judgment debtor’s property with a writ of execution or a writ of garnishment. But, you don’t have to pursue any other post-judgment collection method before you apply for a turnover order. Hennigan v. Hennigan, 666 S.W.2d 322, 323 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.]), writ ref’d n.r.e. per curiam, 677 S.W.2d 495 (Tex. 1984). But, be aware that some courts may require you to get a writ of execution and have it returned nulla bona before considering an application for turnover relief.
Where You File for Turnover Relief
You can file a petition for turnover relief one of two places. First, you can file it in the same suit in which you obtained the judgment. Second, you can file it as a new and independent suit. If you choose to file for a turnover in the same suit in which you got the judgment, the court must have a hearing on your application for turnover relief. Anderson v. Lykes, 761 S.W.2d 831 (Tex. App.-Dallas 1988, no writ). If you choose to file a independent suit to seek turnover relief, you can file the suit in any court having jurisdiction of the subject matter of your case and jurisdiction over the defendant.
In either a new suit or in the old suit, the court’s jurisdiction in a turnover proceeding is limited to nonexempt property of your judgment debtor that you can’t easily seize by another other post-judgment method. Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code §31.002(a); see Hennigan at 323; Pace v. McEwen, 617 S.W.2d 816, 819 (Tex. Civ. App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 1981, no writ).
Texas Turnover Statutes are a powerful weapon in your judgment collection arsenal. But, remember that turnover relief is just one weapon among many. It is effective in its own right. But, it’s doubly effective when used in conjunction with the more typical post-judgment collection methods of Interrogatories in Aid of Judgment, a Writ of Execution and a Writ of Garnishment.
Harvey L. Cox is a an attorney and certified mediator in Texas. He is the author of “How to Collect Your Own Judgment in Texas” and founder of The Texas Judgment Collection Center (http://www.TexasJudgmentCollection.com).