Enforcement of Judgment Against Debtor's Real Property


Common to many of the theories of recovery explored in previous articles is the purpose for which they have been discussed—to provide recovery for one who has suffered injuries or damages caused by another. If one successfully advances any of the previously discussed theories of recovery, and obtains a judgment, a question that naturally follows in many cases is how to enforce the judgment. Often, a person who has a judgment against him/her will not voluntarily pay the judgment. In such a scenario, the person who obtained the judgment (i.e. judgment creditor) has several options to satisfy the judgment. One option, the judgment lien on real property, is discussed in this article.

A judgment lien on real property is one of the quickest, simplest, and least expensive ways to satisfy a judgment. The judgment lien is created simply by recording an abstract of the judgment obtained with the recorder in the county where real property may be held by the judgment debtor. Recordation of the lien requires minimal time and cost, and accordingly, is an effective way to satisfy a judgment. Once the judgment lien is recorded, the judgment debtor as a practical matter will have to satisfy the judgment prior to selling or refinancing real property subject to the lien.

In addition, a judgment lien attaches to all of the judgment debtor’s real property interests in the county where the abstract of judgment is recorded. Little specificity is required to create a judgment lien; it may be created even if the judgment creditor does not know any specifics with regard to a real property interest, or even if the judgment creditor does not know if any real property exists. Furthermore, a judgment lien attaches to both real property interests currently held by the judgment debtor, as well as those interests the judgment debtor acquires in the future. A judgment lien, subject to certain exceptions, attaches to all interests in real property—whether present or future, vested or contingent, or legal or equitable.

A judgment lien is a lien for the amount of the judgment obtained. The lien generally remains in effect until ten (10) years after the judgment is entered, unless the judgment is satisfied or released prior to that time. If the judgment is not satisfied prior to the ten year anniversary, the judgment creditor may seek to extend the judgment lien for another ten years.

A judgment lien is passive-i.e. it merely gives a judgment creditor standing to be paid from proceeds if the property is sold or refinanced. Obviously, this may require the judgment creditor to wait a significant time until some action is initiated by the judgment debtor. For those that cannot or are unwilling to wait, an execution sale of the real property may be forced by recording and serving a writ of execution and notice of levy. Under an execution sale, the property will be sold, and the judgment will be satisfied from the proceeds of the sale. In any event, a judgment lien provides a means through which a judgment may be satisfied. If you have a judgment, it is advised that you consult with an experienced attorney to determine whether the judgment lien is a viable option.

Please note that this article is not legal advice and is not intended as legal advice. The article is intended to provide only general, non-specific legal information. This article is not intended to cover all the issues related to the topic discussed. The specific facts that apply to your matter may make the outcome different than would be anticipated by you. This article does not create any attorney-client relationship between you and the Law Offices of Kenneth U. Reyes, P.C. This article is not a solicitation.

Attorney Kenneth Ursua Reyes was President of the Philippine American Bar Association for 2005. He is a member of both the Family law section and Immigration law section of the Los Angeles County Bar Association. Mr. Reyes is a Certified Family Law Specialist. He is a graduate of Southwestern University Law School in Los Angeles and California State University, San Bernardino School of Business Administration. He has extensive former CPA experience prior to law practice. LAW OFFICES OF KENNETH REYES, P.C. is located at 3699 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 700, Los Angeles, CA, 90010. Tel. (213) 388-1611 or e-mail kureyeslaw@gmail.com; visit at www.kenreyeslaw.com

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