If a debtor defaults on his debt, the creditor can sue him for the amount of the debt plus attorney's fees. Once the creditor wins his case, the court enters a judgment against the debtor, and the creditor can then ask the court to enforce the judgment by garnishing the defendant's wages or levying his bank account. Debtors should attempt to avoid judgments if possible. In Oklahoma, creditors have a certain period of time to enforce a judgment after filing.
Statute of Limitations
As of June 2011, Oklahoma creditors must file lawsuits enforcing judgments against debtors to within five years of the date the court entered the original judgment. If a creditor files a lawsuit after the statute of limitations expires, the debtor can ask the court to dismiss the suit on the grounds that the statute of limitations expired, and the creditor will then be unable to proceed with the lawsuit.
Judgment By Confession
If an Oklahoma debtor does not plan to contest a lawsuit regarding a debt, she can either appear in court in person or submit a signed affidavit to the court stating that she agrees that she owes the debt and giving the court the relevant facts about the debt, such as the amount she owes. The court then enters a judgment by confession against the debtor and can enforce the judgment using the same procedures as any other judgment.
Filing Foreign Judgments
If a creditor wants an Oklahoma court to enforce a foreign judgment -- a judgment entered in any other U.S. court or court of another country -- the creditor must file a copy of the original judgment and an affidavit stating the debtor's last known name and address. The court must then mail a notice to the debtor at his last known address informing him of the filing of a foreign judgment and the name and address of the creditor and the creditor's attorney, if applicable. Following 20 days after filing the notice, the court may begin proceedings to enforce the judgment.
A 2003 amendment to the Oklahoma statutes regarding judgments states that the statute of limitations on enforcing judgments begins when the court clerk enters the judgment rather than when the court decrees the judgment. Thus, it is unclear whether judgments decreed by the court but not yet filed are enforceable, and in theory if for some reason a judgment is never filed, the court may not be able to enforce it.
Jack Ori has been a writer since 2009. He has worked with clients in the legal, financial and nonprofit industries, as well as contributed self-help articles to various publications.