A judgment is a decision handed down from a court deciding the dollar amount awarded to the winner in a lawsuit. For example, judgments are placed against individuals for nonpayment of a debt, such as a credit card, or they are fines or awards handed down in civil suits. Judgments may show up on a person's credit report. They may be collected when property is sold or through other means. Judgments may be reduced and settled for less than the amount awarded through the courts. Reducing the debt will require being in contact with the attorney who filed the judgment.
Appeal the judgment. After the judgment has been handed down, the defendant in the case has the right to appeal the judgment. Appeals are normally required to be filed within 30 days of the initial order. File the claim with the small claims clerk in the county where the judgment has been filed.
Contact the attorney who is listed on the judgment. To obtain the attorney's information, locate the paperwork that established the judgment. If you no longer have that paperwork, obtain a copy of your credit report from a place such as annualcreditreport.com, which allows you to obtain a free report. The county where the judgment was filed will also keep copies of the judgment. Contact the recorder's office of the county to get a copy.
Tell the attorney, representative or plaintiff listed on the judgment that you would like to negotiate the debt. The best way to negotiate a debt is to offer a settlement amount that can be paid all at one time. The closer you can come to the original amount owed, the more likely the attorney's client will be willing to settle. The longer the debt has been outstanding, the more likely your creditor will accept your offer. Payment plans may also be arranged.
Obtain a written statement from the attorney's office explaining that the creditor will accept the dollar amount you negotiated. Do not pay anything to the attorney's office until you have received this statement in writing. Read the statement carefully. If there is anything else that needs to be discussed, contact the attorney's office.
Pay the debt within the time frame established on the statement. After the debt has been paid, a release of judgment should be prepared and given to you showing the judgment has been satisfied. Keep this paperwork in a safe place. This will be your proof that the judgment has been satisfied.
- Credit Info Center: Settling Your Debts Part 1
- Debt Kid: What is a Judgment
- LawCA: How to Appeal a Judgment
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "What Is a Judgment?" Accessed March 16, 2020.
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "What Is a Statue of Limitations On a Debt?" Accessed March 16, 2020.
- Texas Law Help. "What Is an Affirmative Defense?" Accessed March 16, 2020.
- Federal Trade Commission. "Time-Barred Debts." Accessed March 16, 2020.
- The Florida Bar. "The Life of a Money Judgment in Florida Is Limited for Only Some Purposes." Accessed March 16, 2020.
- Virginia Law. "§ 8.01-251 Limitations on Enforcement of Judgments." Accessed March 16, 2020.
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "How Long Does Negative Information Remain on My Credit Report?" Accessed March 16, 2020.
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "What Is a Garnishment?" Accessed March 16, 2020.
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "Can a Debt Collector Take My Social Security or VA Benefits?" Accessed March 16, 2020.
- County of Napa. "Real Property Levy - Writ of Execution." Accessed March 16, 2020.
- U.S. Marshals Service. "Service of Process: Writ of Execution." Accessed March 16, 2020.
- National Association of REALTORS®. "What Is a Property Lien? An Unpaid Debt That Could Trip Up Your Home Sale." Accessed March 16, 2020.
Michael Carpenter has been writing blogs since 2007. He is a mortgage specialist with over 12 years of experience as well as an expert in financing, credit, budgeting and real estate. Michael holds licenses in both real estate and life and health insurance.