If you have been served with lawsuits or judgments, take action as soon as possible.
For resources that can help with defending a lawsuit before a judgment is entered, see our Debt Lawsuit/Judgment Defense Page.
Updated May 2020
What Can a Creditor Do to Me if the Creditor Takes a Judgment in the Lawsuit?
If a judgment has already been entered in the lawsuit, the creditor has the upper hand. The creditor may be able to:
- Seize funds in your bank account.
- Attach a lien to your homestead. The creditor can’t take your home while you are living. But the judgment does cloud the title to your real property.
- Seize property that you cannot exempt under state law.
- Have the Court open a receivership to take control of your assets.
Will Bankruptcy Stop a Judgment That Has Already Been Entered?
Yes, most of the time bankruptcy will stop a judgment from being collected. If the judgment has been entered in the land records and is now a lien on your home, in most cases, bankruptcy can remove the judgment. This is called voiding the judgment. This does require an extra procedure called a Motion to Void Judgment Lien, but it is necessary to clear up the judgment so you can obtain your fresh start.
How Long Can a Creditor Take Property if I Have a Judgment Against Me?
Generally, the creditor has ten years from the time they file the judgment in the land records. The time can be extended by the creditor for at least another 10 years.
Lawsuits and judgments are very serious. Consulting with a knowledgeable bankruptcy attorney as early as possible in the process is extremely important. Every situation is different. An attorney will be able to review your paperwork and suggest possible options.
How Do I Know if I Have a Judgment Against Me?
If you were served with a lawsuit and didn’t take action, you probably have a judgment against you. You can check your credit report. You can also check the court records in the county where you live. Most of the counties have online records you can search.