When a litigant wins a civil case seeking monetary relief in a California court, the judge will enter a formal judgment specifying the amount of the award. In an ideal world the losing party will pay the judgment voluntarily to end the dispute. In reality, however, many debtors choose to ignore that obligation, requiring the judgment creditor to take further steps to collect on the judgment.
An Abstract of Judgment is a common procedural tool used to collect money judgments in California and other jurisdictions. This article discusses how to create and utilize an Abstract of Judgment to collect monies owed to you from a successful lawsuit.
What Is An Abstract Of Judgment?
An Abstract of Judgment is a written summary of a judgment which states how much money the losing party owes to the person who won the lawsuit (judgment creditor), the rate of interest to be paid on the judgment amount, court costs, and any specific orders that the losing party (judgment debtor) must obey. It must also contain the last four digits of the social security number of the judgment debtor and his or her driver’s license number if known to the judgment creditor. It is filed with the County Recorder’s Office where the property is situated and, upon filing, creates a lien on real property owned by the debtor. This includes a house, land, condo, and other similar types of properties.
The county recorder will provide notice to the debtor that you have recorded the Abstract of Judgment. The lien must be satisfied (i.e., you will be paid) if and when the judgment debtor sells the property, or refinances the mortgage on the property. If the debtor does not own real property now but tries to purchase real property at some time in the future, the purchase cannot go through until the debtor has paid you back the money owed with interest.
Securing A Judgment Lien
In California To create the judgment lien a creditor is required to mail or take the Abstract of Judgment to the office of the county recorder in any of the counties in California where the debtor is known to currently own a property or has plans to own one in the future. If the debtor owns real property in various counties, the Abstract of Judgment should be recorded in every county where the debtor owns such property.
The Abstract of Judgment can also attach to personal property. If the lien is to be attached to personal property, a creditor is required to file the Abstract of Judgment Notice with State Secretary of California.
Judgment Lien Duration
A California judgment lien on property can stay attached to real estate or personal property up to 10 years even when the property is no longer owned by the debtor. After 10 years the judgment terminates and any lien or liability for enforcement is extinguished. However, the enforceability period for a money judgment may be renewed (extended) by filing an application for renewal with the court that entered the judgment, and serving the renewal application on the judgment debtor. The renewed judgment extends the enforceability period for 10 more years from the date the application was filed.
A creditor needs to renew the lien before it expires. Once the lien expires, it will no longer be enforceable, and the creditor will not be able to collect the money. So, make sure that you renew the lien every 10 years in California, before the judgment lien on property expires.
Satisfaction Of Judgment
An Abstract of Judgment can be extinguished (paid off) only by the recording of an acknowledgement of satisfaction of the underlying judgment or by the judgment creditors release of the lien.
If you need an Abstract of Judgment prepared, please contact Lynx Legal Service at 888-441-2355 or info @lynxlegal.com. Our experienced professionals are standing by to answer any questions you may have about the process, and the cost of this service.