Question: I lent a friend $4,000.00.  He was supposed to pay me back by now, but hasn’t.  His excuses range from IRS problems to outstanding child support issues.  I ran his name online with the registry of deeds, which shows his large outstanding tax and child support liens.  Outside of filing a lawsuit, how do I get repaid?

Answer: Perhaps you should have been so diligent before lending him money.  You should always research a potential debtor by running his name through the registry of deeds database, and even by calling local courts to find open cases or judgments against him.  Also, request a copy of his credit report.

His outstanding liens would have given you the perfect excuse to use when denying his request.  As “friends” often do, he would have begged and pressured you to just give him the money.  However, with proof of these prior liens in hand, he couldn’t have argued with your sound financial reasoning.

Unfortunately, your remedies are limited to legal action.  You must file a lawsuit in the District Court seeking repayment of the debt.  I hope that you formalized your loan in writing to eliminate his potential defense that you gave him a gift.  Ultimately, your suit will be based on this conflict.

Unfortunately, even if you win, your friend’s outstanding liens practically eliminate the effectiveness of a judgment lien.  You stand in line behind some heavy hitters.  You can file a supplementary process suit to enforce your judgment.  But he will likely just receive a meager monthly payment plan and a virtual slap on his wrist should he not pay accordingly.

Attorney James Haroutunian practices estate planning and real estate law in Billerica at 790 Boston Road.  Contact him to begin an estate plan or with questions at 978-671-0711,,, or email him at

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