Unless all the involved parties reach a settlement outside of court, civil cases end in decisions known as judgments. New York state judgment laws determine how these judgments are handled. Anyone who wins a civil judgment in New York can use many legal methods to get the money the judge awarded.
What Is a Judgment?
In civil cases, the judge and/or jury make final decisions regarding the outcome of the case. However, the decision is not legally enforceable until the court's clerk signs and files a civil judgment in NY. While these judgments may order someone to pay money, NYS judgment laws dictate that judgments may also mandate one party to complete an action or drop the case.
When a judgment orders someone to pay a sum of money, the person who must pay is called the debtor, and the person who is entitled to the money is called the creditor. A civil judgment in New York is good for 20 years. However, when creditors want to use liens against real estate to collect the debt, the liens remain good for 10 years, and the creditor may renew for another 10 years.
Uncontested Divorce Judgment Laws
When a person files for divorce from his or her spouse in an uncontested divorce, the judgment declares that the two people are legally divorced. It is not final until the person who filed for divorce files the judgment with the court's clerk and has someone serve a Notice of Entry to the other party.
Foreclosure Judgment Laws
A plaintiff, typically a bank, can win a foreclosure judgment in one of three ways:
- Earn a default judgment if the defendant fails to answer a summons or complaint;
- Win a trial; or
- Win a summary judgment with a motion.
Once a judge signs a foreclosure judgment, a referee may hold an auction at the courthouse on 30 days' notice to the homeowner. At the auction, the home is sold to the highest bidder.
The defendant may stop the sale of the home by filing for an Order to Show Cause. The show cause request should include the reasons for stopping the sale as well as a request that the sale be stayed until the court rules on the request. For example, a homeowner may do so if the judgment was entered by default and he wants to vacate the default because he was improperly served or has a reason for not filing an answer. A show cause order can also be requested to stop the sale for other reasons, such as having paid the money owed, having a buyer for the property or having a refinance in the works. A bankruptcy filing will also stop the sale, but the homeowner must notify the court and the lender and lender's counsel that the case was filed.
Appealing New York Judgments
When someone is on the losing side of a judgment, he or she may still have hope. Such parties may file appeals with higher courts known as appellate courts. New York law dictates which cases go to which appellate courts, and interested parties can find that information on the New York court website.
Once the defendant receives the judgment with notice of entry, she has 30 days to file an appeal (35 days if she was served by mail).
Read More: What Is a Judgment Against You?
Collecting a New York Judgment
When a court files a judgment, the creditor often does not receive the money right away. Instead, creditors must collect from debtors, which can be a difficult process. First, creditors must locate a person's assets. These assets may include:
- Bank accounts.
- Vehicles and other personal property.
- Real estate.
Creditors may send out Information Subpoenas to discover a debtor's assets. Debtors must respond to information subpoenas truthfully. Once the creditor knows about money and assets, he may hire enforcement officers to force the debtor to pay.
Some types of income and assets are exempt from judgments. For example, NYS judgment laws state that the winner of a judgment cannot take disability benefits, welfare payments, or any income that adds up to 30 times the state's minimum wage.
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