Have you recently discovered for the first time that a judgment was entered against you for an old debt that you may have had? If so, then it would certainly be in your best interest to consult with an attorney to determine whether you can challenge the judgment or settle your debt. Simply ignoring the judgment may wind up costing you much more in the long run as interest continues to accrue. Furthermore, failing to proactively address the judgment may cause you tons of heartache and anxiety once the judgment-creditor figures out where you work or where you keep your bank accounts.

It can very tempting sometimes to simply do nothing and hope that your judgment-creditor will leave you along. However, chances are that your creditor did not go through all the effort of obtaining a judgment just to give up now. Plus, given the laws of New York State, deadlines for enforcing that judgment are very generous for the creditor. How generous? Let’s discuss.
You may be surprised to learn that money judgments in New York are enforceable for a period of twenty (20) years. That judgment can be enforced against any property you have that can be assigned or transferred (such as money, bank accounts and real property).

The judgment also stays on your credit report for up to 10 years, which is three (3) years longer than other debts. And don’t be fooled – although a judgment may come off your credit report after ten (10) years, the judgment still exists and can be enforced within the twenty (20) year time period. It can be an especially upsetting experience having your wages garnished or bank account frozen for a judgment that you incorrectly believed expired when it fell off your credit report.

You may also be surprised to learn that judgment-creditors can also file a lien against your property to enforce a judgment. A lien is a right to keep possession of property belonging to another person until a debt owed by that person is discharged (through payment or otherwise). A lien can be granted with the judgment initially and is valid for (ten) 10 years. However, the creditor may then seek a renewal judgment on that lien for an additional ten (10) years – for a total of twenty (20) years.

When you realize that a judgment lasts for twenty (20) years and accrues interest all along the way, it can be pretty daunting. That’s why it’s very important to challenge the judgment head-on.

The lawyers at Graham & Borgese can help you investigate the circumstances under which the judgment was obtained, educate you about the process, and advise you of your rights and options so you can put the debt behind you. If you have questions, don’t wait – call us today!