An Abstract of Judgment is a public record, filed after the judgment is made, which details the judgment of a court case. It identifies the losing defendant, also known as the judgment debtor and the winning plaintiff, also known as the judgment creditor. Most importantly, it creates a lien against non-exempt real property and is therefore filed in the county where the judgment debtor owns real estate to encumber property owned by the debtor.
Tex. Prop Code Ann. § 52.003 (Vernon 1984) outlines the detailed requirements of the Abstract of Judgment, including names, contact information, birth dates, partial driver’s license numbers and social security numbers, the suit number, as well as any and all monies owed. It also identifies the contact information of the judgment creditor.
Because the Abstract of Judgment effectively creates a lien, all of the required information must be correct because if the information is not recorded properly, the lien does not attach. See Texas American Bank v. Southern Union Exploration, 714 S.W.2d 105 (Tex. App.—Eastland 1986, writ ref’d n.r.e.). The information must also be current. In one case for example, the Abstract of Judgment did not accurately reflect that the judgment debtor had made several payments toward the judgment. This omission meant that the Abstract of Judgment did not comply with the requirements for creating the judgment lien. Rosenfield v. Alley & Stainless, Inc., 62 B.R. 515 (Bankr. N.D. Tex. 1986).
The Abstract of Judgment is an effective tool in collecting money owed on judgements. However, missing a small detail may cause the abstract of judgement not to properly encumber the property. Working with an experienced lawyer skilled in post judgement collection will ensure that the Abstract of Judgment does the important job it is intended to do.
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