Collecting On A Judgment


An Overview of Creditor-Debtor Law and Judgment Enforcement Techniques



Judgment enforcement law is about as non-uniform between the various states as any body of law.


Judgment Liens and Abstracts of Judgment

A lien establishes ("attaches") the creditor's judgment interest in an asset of the defendant. Once the judgment lien has attached to the debtor's asset, the creditors interest in the asset is superior to that of all third-parties who had knowledge of the lien. If the creditor's lien has been filed of public record, third-parties are deemed to have "constructive notice" of the lien.

Some number of judgments are collected by the creditor doing nothing more than obtaining a lien on some valuable piece of property of the debtor. For instance, a creditor might establish a lien on a piece of valuable real estate that the debtor owns, and the would receive up to the amount of the judgment, plus interest, when the property is eventually sold by the debtor.

An Abstract of Judgment is a form that is filed by the creditor with the county recorder's office, and which establishes a judgment lien on all the debtor's interest in real estate owned then or thereafter in that county, i.e., if the creditor has filed an Abstract of Judgment and the debtor subsequently buys or inherits a piece of real estate in that county, the Abstract of Judgment would attach to it. Since the Abstract of Judgment shows up in the title records, it means that the debtor cannot convey good title to some third-party purchaser of the real estate, and so therefore must deal with the creditor before being able to sell the property. The downside to an Abstract of Judgment is that it is only effective in the county where it is filed, so creditors will frequently file Abstracts of Judgments in the debtor's county of residence, surrounding counties, and in any other counties where the debtor might have real estate. It is also only effective as to an interest in real property.

Some states allow a lien on the debtor's personal property in the state to be created by a special filing with the Secretary of State's office. These filings create judgments liens on personal property only, and are very similar in their form and effect to a U.C.C.-1 filing. They typically do not cost much to file, but sometimes they can make a difference, particularly if two creditors are squabbling over the same asset.



C O M M O N      P A G E      F O O T E R



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For Past Articles click here




  • About Jay Adkisson - More about Jay D. Adkisson, background, books, articles, speaking appearances -


  • Captive Insurance Companies - Licensed insurance companies formed by the parent organization to handle the insurance and risk management needs of the business -



  • Voidable Transactions - Discussion of the Uniform Voidable Transactions Act (a/k/a 2014 Revision of the Uniform Fraudulent Transfers Act) and fraudulent transfer law in general -


  • Private Retirement Plans - An exploration of a unique creditor exemption allowed under California law which can be very beneficial but is often misused -


  • Charging Orders - The confusing remedy against a debtor's interest in an LLC or partnership is explained in reference to the Uniform Partnership Act, the Uniform Limited Partnership Act, and the Uniform Limited Liability Company Act -


  • Protected Series LLCs - An examination of the single most complex statutory legal structure yet created, with particular reference to the Uniform Protected Series Act of 2017 -


  • California Enforcement of Judgments Law - Considers the topic of judgment enforcement in California, including the California Enforcement of Judgments Law and other laws related to California creditor-debtor issues -


  • Anti-SLAPP Laws - A collection of and commentary about Anti-SLAPP laws and significant court decisions on the subject within the United States -


© 2018 by Jay D. Adkisson. All Rights Reserved. No claim to original government works. The information contained in this website is for general educational purposes only, does not constitute any legal advice or opinion, and should not be relied upon in relation to particular cases. Use this information at your own peril; it is no substitute for the legal advice or opinion of an attorney licensed to practice law in the appropriate jurisdiction.  This site  Contact Jay Adkisson by phone to 702-953-9617, by fax to 877-698-0678, or by e-mail to jay [at]