Judgment Liens Law and Legal Definition

A judgment lien is created when a court grants a creditor an interest in the debtor's property, based upon a court judgment. A plaintiff who obtains a monetary judgment is termed a "judgment creditor." The defendant becomes a "judgment debtor."

Judgment liens may be created through a wide variety of circumstances. For example, if a person negligently injures someone in an accident, the injured person is likely to sue for damages. If the insurance doesn't cover the judgment, a judgment lien may be placed against the negligent person's property to secure payment of the claim to the injured party.

If the debt is not paid, the judgment creditor can then seek to enforce the judgment by garnishing wages, seizing a bank account, or placing a lien against the debtor's property. After the judgment creditor places a lien upon the attached property, the next step in the collection process is to conduct a sale of the attached property to satisfy the judgment debt. If a lien were placed on a home, the judgment creditor would then seek to foreclose on the property, in the same way a mortgage holder such as a bank would foreclose if it were not paid.

Laws regarding judgment liens vary by jurisdiction, so local laws should be consulted for specific requirements. The following is an example of a state law dealing with judgment liens:

" 18.360 Expiration of judgment and lien; renewal; judgment in criminal action; judgments for property division. (1) Except as provided in this section and ORS 25.700, whenever a period of 10 years elapses after the entry of a judgment in a circuit court, the judgment and any docketed or recorded lien thereof shall expire. However, before the expiration of 10 years the circuit court for the county in which the judgment originally was entered, on motion, may renew the judgment and cause a notation in the register and the judgment docket indicating the renewal of the judgment to be made. The renewed judgment and any lien thereof expire 10 years after entry of the renewed judgment. If the judgment is renewed, the judgment creditor or the agent of the judgment creditor may cause to be recorded in the County Clerk Lien Record of any other county in this state a certified copy of the renewed judgment or a lien record abstract. Execution may issue upon the renewed judgment until the judgment expires or is fully satisfied."