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Texas Judgement Records
In Texas, after a judge hears the pleadings presented by parties to a legal dispute, such a judge has to issue a final decision. This decision is a judgment that determines which party is at fault and liable for punishment. The Texas State courts keep records of the various matters before it and the judgments that apply to them.
Like most Texas court records, judgment record files are public records in Texas. The public may obtain access in paper or electronic formats. In a judgment record, individuals may find relevant information on a case, such as the names of the parties and their pleadings. Others are the entry date of the judgment, the presiding judge, and other salient things that pertain to the judgment.
What is a Judgment?
A judgment in Texas is a paper that comes from a judge stating who won a lawsuit. In cases where the judgment involves payment of money, the court determines who the judgment debt is on and the duration for the person to pay up. A person can get a judgment in a lawsuit after going through a complete trial involving facts, evidence, and witnesses.
Alternatively, the court may issue a default judgment or summary judgment if certain conditions are met. If the court gives judgment in favor of a party, such a party is a judgment creditor, while the losing party is a judgment debtor.
The judgment debtor is bound to pay the money owed, and Texas law allows the judgment creditor to collect the judgment using any available means provided under local statutes. Section 31.001 of the Civil Practice and Remedies Code makes provisions for judgments that permit personal or real estate property transfer. It also prevents the judgment debtor from taking any action.
A presiding judge in Texas may issue an oral or written judgment, depending on the circumstances surrounding the matter. If the court has many caseloads or a quicker judgment is necessary, the judge may issue an oral judgment.
The judge may prefer a written judgment for complex situations that may go on appeal or are relevant to the public. These written judgments take time to prepare, and it may take days, weeks or months, for a judge to release a written judgment.
Texas Judgment Laws
Interested persons may find Texas judgment laws in Chapter 31 of the Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code. The specific chapter explains all there is to know about judgments in Texas. It also outlines the various ways successful litigants may collect or enforce judgments through the Texas judicial system.
What is Judgment Lien?
A judgment lien in Texas is provided for in Chapter 52 of the Texas Property Code, and it gives the judgment creditor a right to payment from the sale of the debtor’s property. Texas courts permit judgment liens because most judgment debtors refuse to pay after handing down judgment on a matter.
Judgment liens are attached to a debtor’s real estates properties, such as a house, land, or similar property interest. While some states extend liens to include a debtor’s personal property like jewelry, Texas law limits judgment lien to real estate only.
What is a Texas Summary Judgement?
In Texas, a summary judgment may arise where the court believes there is no case for trial. The reason is that either party lacks sufficient evidence or a proper defense to pursue the matter. A summary judgment helps the court and litigants avoid unnecessary trials or deal with specific issues or claims. The court enters a summary judgment for one party, against another, without trial.
What is a Summary Judgment Motion in Texas?
Rule 166a of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure sets the procedure for applying for a summary judgment using a summary judgment motion. The claimant may apply with supporting affidavits to make a claim, and the defending party may also respond with a supporting affidavit.
The motion must state the specific grounds, and the claimant must file and serve the motion at least 21 days before the hearing date. The defending party has seven days to respond, and it must also be before the hearing. A summary hearing in Texas does not require the oral testimony of the parties.
Parties are to base the supporting affidavits on personal knowledge alone. Suppose a party makes the affidavit in bad faith or to delay the proceedings. In that case, the court will order that person to pay the other party reasonable expenses, including attorney fees. The court may also find that party guilty of contempt.
Texas Judgment Record Search
Any information produced, collected, written, or assembled by or on behalf of a government is public information in Texas. The Texas Public Information Act of 1973 grants the public access to records of the state government agencies. Despite this provision, the Texas courts or judiciary are exempt from the Act. As a result, even though Texas court records are public information, the Supreme Court of Texas determines access to these records.
Interested persons may find Texas judgment records in the court clerk’s office, and depending on the court, the person may contact the county, district, or city clerk. The appellate courts in Texas have an online search tool to make the process an easy one.
How Do I Look Up a Judgment in Texas?
The first step to finding judgment records in Texas is to identify the court that presided over the matter. Next, the interested person may contact the court’s record custodian, who is often the court clerk of individual courts.
To find the contact details for different courts in Texas, interested persons may search the state judiciary’s online directory. The standard procedure for finding judgment records in Texas is to go to the courthouse in person or by sending a mail request. Counties like Dallas, Travis, and Harris now provide web portals to search for records online.
A requestor needs to provide relevant information to facilitate the record search, like the case number and names of the involved parties. Alternatively, individuals may use third-party search tools to get Texas court judgment information.
What Happens if You Have a Judgment Against You in Texas?
In Texas, a court’s judgment over a dispute is a final determination of rights and wrongs. The court may order the losing party to pay monetary damages to the party that won the case. Once a person finds out a judgment exists against them, the person must pay the said debt sum.
Refusal to pay the judgment sum can cause problems for the judgment debtor, and the judgment creditor may take legal steps to enforce the judgment. In enforcing a judgment, the creditor cannot seize a debtor’s assets without a court’s order. However, if a person cannot pay a judgment and doesn’t own anything of value to place a lien over, such a person is judgment proof.
The judgment creditor cannot enforce a judgment against an individual that is judgment proof, but the court can still place an order from such a person. If there is a window to file appeal, especially in the case of default judgments, the losing party may take tht approach instead of going ahead to pay the judgment sum.
How Do I Find Out if I Have Any Judgments Against Me in Texas?
If a person has a matter that proceeds to trial, such a person is most likely aware of the outcome. However, in certain circumstances like a default judgment, a party may be unaware of the outcome of the court case, as monitoring the process can pose a challenge.
The best way to find out if there are outstanding judgments is to search through court records which are public information. Although not every county is online, Brazoria County and Collin County are examples of counties with an online presence.
Individuals may check the online platforms, call the courthouses or visit the courthouses in person to find out about judgment information. There are also third-party services that charge a small fee to help individuals search for such records that are not available online.
How Long Does a Judgment Stay on Your Record?
Given that the judgments of a court are public records, a judgment debt is a lifetime affair until it becomes statute-barred. As long as a judgment is active, it remains on a person’s record and can stay there forever or until the person pays the debt. A judgment can stay on a person’s credit report for at least seven years, under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), or until the statute of limitation has expired, depending on which is longer.
How to Enforce a Judgment in Texas
To enforce the judgment of a court in Texas, the judgment creditor may file a judgment lien. It places a lien on any real property that the debtor owns, and if the debtor attempts to sell the property, the judgment creditor gets paid from the sale proceeds.
A creditor that wants to file a judgment lien must record an abstract of judgment or “AJ” in the county where the property is located. Section 52.002 of the Property Code makes provision for the issuance of an abstract on the judgment creditor’s application after the payment of authorized fees.
Another procedure for enforcing a judgment debt is requesting a Writ of Execution, which allows the seizure and sale of the debtor’s non-exempt property. The proceeds of the sale then go to the judgment creditor. To apply for this writ, the applicant must fill an application form to start the process.
An order of garnishment is another order that allows a third party holding property for a debtor to turn it over to the judgment creditor. Properties under the possession of third-parties may include bank accounts and stocks, but a person’s wages are not subject to a Writ of Garnishment in texas.
Chapter 63 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code is the state law that governs garnishment proceedings. If the judgment creditor cannot recover the debt from any of the above methods, the creditor may request a Turnover Order pursuant to Section 31.002 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code. The effect of the order is to apply the property to satisfy the judgment.
How to Collect a Judgment in Texas
The fact that a court issued a judgment in favor of a person in a matter does not mean that the judgment creditor will automatically get the money owed. Such a creditor must take steps to collect or enforce the judgment, and Chapter 31 of the Civil Practice and Remedies Code provides various ways to collect a judgment through the courts.
The judgment creditor may apply to a court of appropriate jurisdiction or some other means to get access or rights over any property that the debtor owns or plans to own in the future. When the court gets such an application, it may order the judgment debtor to turn over any property not exempted and in the debtor’s possession or control to a specific sheriff or constable for execution.
The court may also appoint a receiver to take possession of the property, sell it and pay the proceeds to the judgment creditor till the judgment debt is paid off. If the debtor refuses or fails to hand over the property, the court may conduct contempt proceedings and enforce the judgment.
A judgment debtor may also collect the judgment debt from property that a financial institution holds on behalf of the judgment debtor as a customer of the institution. To do this, the judgment debtor must serve the institution a certified copy of the order of receivership in the manner prescribed by section 59.008 of the Finance Code.
The judgment debtor must also attach supporting documents, such as a certified copy of the judgment, a document that establishes the qualification of the receiver, and an affidavit. After this process, the appointed receiver may move in to settle the judgment debt from that property.
Section 31.0025 of the Civil Practice and Remedies Code prohibits Texas courts from ordering the turnover of a debtor’s wages at a time before the person is paid. Wages here refer to cash, paycheck, or property, and this rule does not apply if the enforcement of judgment debt is about past-due child support.
What Happens if a Defendant Does Not Pay a Judgment in Texas
If a defendant cannot pay or refuses to pay a judgment in Texas, it can lead to serious unpleasant consequences. First, the judgment will gather interest over time, leaving the debtor with more debts to pay. The judgment creditor may also make the debtor pay and make the debtor reimburse the cost of debt collection.
The existence of a judgment debt can ruin a person’s credit score, making it difficult to obtain credit facilities or even buy a house. So, every judgment debtor should pay off the judgment debt within a reasonable time to prevent problems in the future. Other consequences of failure-to-pay include the seizure of real property, bank accounts, and other non-exempt assets.
What Personal Property Can Be Seized in a Judgment in Texas?
Personal property refers to things that a person has that are not land. In Texas, a creditor cannot enforce a judgment against the debtor’s personal property under Chapter 42 of the Texas Property Code.
Personal property under the code includes alimony, prescribed health aids, religious items, unpaid wages, home furnishings, and family heirloom. Others are jewelry, firearms, bicycles, sporting equipment, and clothing items. Texas state laws regard these properties as exempt from judgment debt collection.
The provision of section 52.001 of the Texas Property Code is that a judgment lien cannot attach to property exempt from seizure or forced sale under Chapter 41 of the Texas Property Code. Such exempt property includes a homestead or property used to bury the dead. Article 16, Section 50 of the Texas Constitution further protects properties with homestead exemption.
It protects such properties from forced or unauthorized sale to pay off certain debts. The judgment debtor may file a "Homestead Affidavit of Release of Judgment Lien" on the property, following the procedure in section 52.0012 of the Texas Property Code.
Texas Judgment Interest Rate
In Texas, the method for calculating the interest rate on judgment debts is the weekly average 1-year constant maturity (nominal) Treasury yield. For the period of 13 September 2021 to 19 September 2021, the rate was 0.08%.
The Federal Reserve System publishes the applicable post-judgment interest rates every week unless there is a holiday. It is advisable to monitor these interest rates, which may change from time to time. Interested persons may visit the Federal Reserve website for more details.
What is a Default Judgment?
A default judgment in Texas occurs where a person fails to meet an important deadline in response to a case. For instance, if the defendant does not respond to the plaintiff’s initial petition, the judge may have to proceed as though everything in the petition is true, as there is no reply to counter it. As a result, the case will not proceed in favor of the absent party. It may also attract court costs and judgment debts.
How to File a Motion to Set Aside Default Judgment in Texas
Rules 329(b) of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure lays down the procedure to file a motion to set aside a default judgment. The applicant must file the motion within 30 days of the default judgment. If the applicant did not find out about the default judgment on time, the deadline begins when the applicant receives notice of the default judgment.
The applicant may also request a new trial within two years from the day of the default judgment. The applicant must schedule a hearing for the motion and serve notice on the other party, at least three days to the hearing date.
Such an applicant must also fill out certain forms that the court clerk will provide, writing the reasons for the failure of the applicant to appear at the previous hearing or respond to the court process. Such reasons may be an accident, mistake, or any valid reason that will convince the court.
File Motion to Vacate Judgment in Texas
To vacate a judgment in Texas, the individual plans to give the court a reason to keep the lawsuit active. Rule 320 of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure provides that a judge may set aside or vacate a judgment and order a new trial if there is a good cause. Rules 324 of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure buttresses grounds for moving a motion to vacate a judgment.
Such grounds includes insufficient evidence to support the court’s finding, presence of newly-discovered evidence, or inadequate award of damages. The motion to vacate a judgment must come within thirty days from the date the judgment was issued. But if the party was not present at the original proceedings, the person gets two years to file the motion, like in a default judgment.
How to Remove an Abstract of Judgment in Texas
An abstract of judgment in Texas creates a lien over the debtor’s property, and the only way to remove the lien is to get a release or discharge. To do this, the judgment debtor may issue a demand letter to the judgment creditor and their attorney. Where there is no response, the debtor may file a “Homestead Affidavit as Release of Judgment Lien” under section 52.0012 of the Texas Property Code.
Still, the judgment creditor may choose to file an affidavit contradicting and stopping the first one under section 52.0012(d)(2)(e). The affidavit must be in proper form and meet all the requirements of the statute. The result is that the matter returns to the court for determination.
How Long is a Judgment Good for in Texas
A judgment lien in Texas remains attached to a debtor’s property for ten years. However, many factors may affect a creditor’s ability to enforce the judgment, like if the property is the debtor’s main home, to which a homestead exemption applies. In other circumstances, it may be foreclosure or bankruptcy proceedings that delay the process.
Under section 34 of the Civil Practice and Remedies Code, the judgment creditor has to execute the judgment within ten years from the day of its issue, or it becomes dormant. The creditor may not enforce the judgment after that duration unless the judgment creditor removes the judgment.
Section 31.006 of the Civil Practice and Remedies Code makes it possible to revive the judgment by an action of debt, which the debtor must bring within the time provided for in the section. If the reasons for the motion are good enough, the court will set aside the decision.
Texas Judgment Statute of Limitations Law
A statute of limitation is a law that stipulates how long a person can take to bring up or enforce an action. In Texas, a judgment lien becomes dormant if the judgment creditor does not renew it after the first ten years elapses.
Section 34(b) of the Civil Practice and Remedies Code provides that there can be no execution on a dormant judgment unless it is revived. If the judgment creditor fails to revive the judgment before the second anniversary of the validity period, the judgment becomes statute-barred.