What Happens When a Judgment Is Filed Against Me?

By Contributing Writer
A defendant may choose to file for bankruptcy to deal with a judgment.

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A judgment is the result of a civil court case where a plaintiff, whether a company or individual, sues a company or individual(s) and wins. For instance, a default judgment is when a defendant doesn’t submit an answer to the complaint and an automatic judgment is granted to the plaintiff. Regardless of the judgment, many actions can happen after the judgment is filed.

Judgment and Records

Once the plaintiff wins the case, the judgment is entered into court records where the person resides. This means that anyone can look up and obtain information regarding the court case. In addition, the judgment is entered onto the person’s credit report and may stay on his credit history for approximately seven to 10 years. As the result, the judgment will lower a person’s credit rating.

Other Court Proceedings

After the judgment has been awarded against a person, he still has the opportunity to appeal the judgment. Typically, the person has approximately 15 to 20 days — depending on the state where he lives — to write a formal appeal. The appeal has to provide legal reasons why the judgment should be over turned. States also provide remedies for the plaintiff to collect the judgment. For instance, the defendant, also called a judgment debtor, must appear in court for a hearing. The hearing is for the plaintiff to determine the person’s source of income to pay off a momentary judgment or find the value of the property awarded to the plaintiff in the judgment.

Creditors Seek a Writ of Attachment

If property is involved in the court case and the defendant loses, he will have to return the property to the plaintiff. If this doesn’t happen, the plaintiff can file a lien against the property, such as a house, and obtain a writ of attachment. This writ allows a state official such as a sheriff to seize or take the property back for the plaintiff.

Possible Garnishments

The plaintiff also has the right to obtain a writ from the court that awarded the judgment to seek a garnishment to recover the money awarded. There are two types of garnishment: The plaintiff can receive a writ to garnish a person’s wages. This means the plaintiff provides the defendant’s employer to a copy of the writ to start deducting money from defendant’s paychecks. The deduction continues until the judgment is satisfied. Another option is for the plaintiff to garnish the defendant’s bank account. This means the plaintiff is allowed to take money from a person’s savings or checking account to satisfy the judgment.

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