What is a judgment creditor?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 15, 2021

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A judgment creditor is the party a money judgment is issued to and is entitled to enforcement of the judgment through liens, execution and levy. Simply put, the judgment creditor is the person who receives the money in a judgment ruling. During the trial, they are called the ‘plaintiff’ although judgments such as attorney’s fees may also be owed to the plaintiff’s attorney.

What Is a Judgment?

A judgment is a ruling by any state or federal court ordering money to be paid to another party. A judgment is binding and enforceable by the court that the ruling came from. If a judgment is not paid, a lien can be placed on the person’s property until the debt is satisfied.

A judgment creditor is given great leeway in how the judgment money is actually collected. Typical actions include placing a lien on property that will have to be paid when it is sold, removing a small amount each month from the debtor’s paycheck, and placing an order of payment on any trust funds the debtor receives.If a trust has a spend-thrift provision, then judgment creditors cannot access the trust funds for repayment. However, the judgment creditor can still garnish any trust payments as they are released. If the debtor declares certain types of bankruptcy, then the judgement creditor is limited in their remedy to whatever is obtained from the property and assets upon sale.

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How a Judgment Creditor Collects Their Money

All judgment creditors go through the court system for payment. The process of using a debtor’s property and money to satisfy a judgment is called execution. Execution is handled directly through the court so that the judgment creditor does not have to deal directly with the debtor.

Can a Debtor Avoid Paying a Judgment Creditor?

Judgments are unsecured debt, so all payments must come once an asset is liquidated. The court will, however, place a lien on all property making it difficult to sell. This is because whoever the property is transferred to is still responsible for the debt and will be sued by the judgment creditor for payment.

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