Conciliation Court

The Judgment

When Will You Hear the Court's Decision?

The court may help you and the defendant reach an agreement at the hearing. If not, the court will decide the case and you will be notified by mail of the decision. (The court usually does not rule on claims at the time of the hearing.) The judgment will not become effective until 20 days after the notice is mailed. The court administrator will tell you the date in this notice. This 20-day period is called the "stay period," and it allows you to appeal or make a motion to vacate the judgment.

What if You Lose?

If either the plaintiff or the defendant is dissatisfied with the judge's decision, the 20-day stay period allows the unhappy party to appeal or bring a motion to vacate the judgment. This is discussed further in the section titled "Removing the Case." The court may also vacate the judgment and order a new hearing if a party that did not appear had a good reason for not appearing. Before it grants a new hearing, the court may require the party who did not appear to pay costs to the other party.

Application for "vacation of judgment" generally must be made within the 20-day stay period. You must show:

The court will only reopen the case if it decides that your absence was unavoidable and unintentional. You will be notified by mail of the new trial date.

How Do You Pay the Judgment?

If you are within the metropolitan counties, make payment directly to the conciliation court by the date the judgment becomes final. The court records will then reflect that payment was made. For Greater Minnesota areas, check with the court administrator for payment guidelines.

How Do You Collect Your Money if You Win?

The conciliation court cannot and will not collect the judgment for you. It may be necessary for you to take additional steps to enforce the judgment. Remember, you may not try to collect the judgment until 20 days after the notice of judgment is postmarked.

In the collection process, you are the judgment creditor, or collector. The person you are trying to collect from is called the debtor, or judgment debtor. The following procedural steps must be taken when a debtor refuses to pay and the location of collectible assets is known. The costs associated with these procedures will be added to the amount of your claim.

Despite all of these legal actions, there will still be some cases where the debtor is "judgment proof." The debtor may possess only minimum viable assets and may be unemployed with public assistance as the only source of income. In that case, there is little you can do. However, a conciliation court judgment is valid for 10 years. Over that time, a person's financial circumstances will often change.