Common Questions Regarding Judgments
Answer: 10 years and it cannot be extended.
Question: What does it mean to have a judgment against you?
Answer: A judgment will be an automatic lien on any real estate you own in the county where it is filed. A judgment creditor can also have the sheriff sell your non-exempt assets.
Question: Will a bankruptcy discharge a judgment?
Answer: This is a little complicated, especially if you own real estate that the judgment attached to prior to the bankruptcy filing. if you obtain a discharge of your debts in the bankruptcy, which means that the debts are legally forgiven, the judgment debt will be discharged but the judgment lien against your real estate may still exist, much like a mortgage lien would continue to exist even if you were discharged of the mortgage debt. The good news is that you will probably be able to avoid (get rid of) the judgment through a process called judgment lien avoidance. This is particularly true for your residence but this process could also be used to avoid a judgment lien against other types of real property like a rental property.
Question: Will I have to file bankruptcy if I have a judgment?
Answer: While having a judgment lien against you might indicate that you should looking seriously at filing bankruptcy, you certainly can carry on a fairly normal life with a judgment against you. Your credit will not be good and you may not be able to sell your home or refinance your home without paying off the lien; your non- exempt assets, if any, could be at risk, like a vehicle that had more than $5,825 of equity in it, but your properly set-up retirement accounts are safe and your income could not be garnished in South Carolina like it could be in Georgia. So, if you can ride out the judgment for 10 years, you will be in good shape. Unfortunately, you may be out of the credit arena for that period of time.
Question: How do I deal with a judgment outside of bankruptcy?
Answer: In addition to waiting it out, you should go to the creditor with an offer to resolve the judgment. We will offer take a look at a client's situation and see what the creditor would get if the client were to file a Chap 7 or Chap 13 bankruptcy. We would then make an offer taking those 2 scenarios into consideration so that we offer a little more that the creditor would receive in a Chap 7 or something less than the creditor would receive in a Chap 13 but would provide that the creditor would receive it sooner than the creditor would normally receive it in a Chap 13. We call this a workout and it can be an effective way to settle with your judgment creditor. If you do not have a lump sum to pay the settlement amount, we may offer a payment plan but you will get more of a discount the sooner you can pay the settlement.