What is a judgment?

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A judgment is the outcome of a lawsuit where the winning party is awarded a sum of money from the losing party.

In the bankruptcy context, a judgment typically results when a creditor sues and wins in court, i.e., Bank of America v. John and Jane Doe.

The judgment is the piece of paper that is docketed at the courthouse at the end of the case that says something like “John Doe owes Bank of America $15,000.”  Its effect can vary greatly depending on what property a debtor owns.

A judgment automatically becomes a lien on real property owned by the debtor in the county where the judgment is docketed.  It can also be moved to any other county where the debtor owns real property and attach to that property.   When I ask people who come in for a consultation about the debt owed on their home, they will tell me about any mortgages owed.  However, most of the time they do not realize that if they have real property, any judgment against them may be an additional lien on that property.

Additionally, the sheriff may come out to your home and look around for personal property that could be sold and the money applied to the judgment or seize money from a bank account.

Anyone sued by a creditor should consult with a bankruptcy attorney to determine what effect having a judgment entered against him would have.