Texas law provides different methods to collect on a court judgment regardless of whether the judgment originates from the state of Texas or another state. If you happen to have won a judgment outside of Texas, there are certain steps you have to take before you can enforce that judgment here. The full faith and credit clause of our constitution allows for states to honor the judgment of sister states so long as specific rules have been followed. The scope of this article does not address the steps needed to be taken for judgments from other countries.
A judgment won outside of Texas is referred to as a foreign judgment. If you have a foreign judgment, you must first domesticate it in order to enforce it. To domesticate a judgment, file an affidavit of filing a foreign judgment, attaching a certified copy of the judgment from the foreign court to said affidavit and a notice of filing a foreign judgment with the county clerk. Be sure to send a copy of the notice to the judgment debtor. This provides the debtor and public notice of the foreign judgment. Once the application has been file-stamped and notice sent, the judgment should be considered domesticated and rendered a Texas judgment. The judgment creditor can begin employing any and all methods of collection available for a Texas judgment, including but not limited to, abstracting the judgment in particular counties.
It is important to note that the judgment from the sister state must still be valid at the time the domestication occurs. You cannot domesticate an invalid judgment. There are also timelines that prevent a judgment holder from domesticating a judgment against a Texas resident, if the debtor has resided in Texas for more than ten years from the date the judgment was originally rendered.
Please be aware that a judgment becomes uncollectable ten years following rendition. However, abstracting the judgment within the first ten years after the judgment is rendered will keep it alive for another ten years after abstracting. It starts the ten-year clock over. So if a judgment is rendered on November 10, 2002, then the judgment creditor should abstract the judgment by November 9, 2012. Assuming the abstract is renewed via refiling on November 9, 2012, then the judgment can still be collected until November 9, 2022. This process continues, theoretically, forever. Remember to renew the judgment by refiling the abstract within ten years after the initial filing of the abstract to avoid losing the power to collect on the judgment.
- Writ of Execution
Secondly, after abstracting the judgment, the judgment creditor can find non-exempt personal or real property in a specific county in Texas and request a writ of execution from the county clerk. The clerk of the county will then send a writ to the judgment creditor. This writ can be sent to a constable or sheriff in the county who will then physically go to the location of the property who will then levy and sell the property on the first Tuesday of the month along with the other foreclosure sales.
- Writ of Garnishment
Thirdly, along with abstracting the judgment in a county and executing a writ on property, a judgment creditor can collect on the judgment by freezing and taking assets found in a debtor’s bank account by executing a writ of garnishment. This allows a creditor to demand a bank turnover any assets found in its customers’ account to partially or totally satisfy the judgment.
- Turnover Order
Fourthly, the most extraordinary of collection methods is to ask a court to appoint a receiver. This receiver will use its court appointed power to find and turnover assets to the creditor where such assets are unattainable through normal collection means. This is the most powerful option, yet the rarest due to its power.
These four methods provide effective ways for judgment creditors to collect on their money judgments. As with many areas of the law, an attorney can be an excellent and sometimes necessary asset in navigating these processes. If you need help collecting a judgment, please call The Cromeens Law Firm and our attorneys will be happy to help.