A judgment in Texas is effective for 10 years from the date it is abstracted (filed in the public records), and earns annual interest. The creditor may renew the judgment at the end of the initial 10 years for another 10 years.
A judgment lien attaches to the debtor’s non-exempt real property in the county where the abstract is recorded. If you live in Dallas County, the judgment will most likely be recorded in the Dallas County property records.
A judgment, whether recorded or not, is likely to show up on your credit report. In Dallas County and in most counties, the credit reporting agencies employ persons who manually check the courts for judgments and then report them to the credit reporting agencies. Judgments are public records and may be accessed by anyone who seeks to check the records.
A credit card judgment does not act as a judgment lien on a homestead. Tex. Const. Art. XVI, §51. For a homestead exemption to be effective, the homestead must be occupied.
Some obligations which may subject your homestead property to a lien:
- purchase money obligation (your loan to buy the house)
- refinancing of a lien
- labor and materials for improvements on the property if pursuant to a signed contract
- certain home equity loans
- reverse mortgage
- homeowners’ association dues
Are my wages subject to garnishment?
Not in Texas. Tex. Const. art. XVI, §28
[exception is the IRS, federally guaranteed student loans and child support]
Other property exempt from garnishment:
- real property
- worker’s compensation benefits
- government employees’ retirement benefits
- welfare and social security benefits
- trust or other funds in debtor’s name belonging to a third party
- certain life, health and accident insurance benefits
- pensions, profit sharing, retirement and similar plans
(Source: Texas Collections Manual, State Bar of Texas)
While having a judgment entered against you may not be the end of the world, it is still be the best practice to try to avoid it. Once a judgment is rendered, your credit report is made a disaster and will remain so until the judgment is paid and released. If you are served with a lawsuit in Dallas County or a surrounding county, consult an attorney who has experience in defending debtors. Learn if there are possible defenses or other options than just allowing a judgment to be entered. Contact my office to discuss the possible outcomes of your lawsuit.