Winning a lawsuit is not always the end of the legal process. In a perfect world, the losing party promptly pays out any money allotted to the winning party. When this does not happen it is important to know that the winning party now becomes a creditor and obtains a judgment against the debtor, and dockets the judgment with the State of New Jersey. That judgment becomes a lien on all of the property of the judgment debtor in New Jersey from the time it is entered among the minutes or records of the Court pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2A:16-1, and remains so until it is cancelled, discharged, released or barred by an applicable statute of limitations.
A Judgment Lien is Good for 20 Years
There are many ways that a judgment creditor in New Jersey can collect on its judgment. If one knows where a judgment debtor has bank accounts, those accounts may be levied. Additionally, a debtor’s wages can
be garnished and certain property owned by the judgment debtor may be seized and used to satisfy the judgment. There are, however, limits on what can be used for collection purposes, and time limits as to the same.
According to N.J.S.A. 2A:14-5, a judgment lien in New Jersey is valid for 20 years. An action may also be commenced in New Jersey on a judgment obtained in any other state or country within 20 years “or within the period in which a like action might be brought thereon in that state or country, whichever period is shorter, but not thereafter.” Up until now, pursuant to the case of Cumberland County Welfare Bd. v. Roberts, 139 N.J.Super 126 (1976), af rmed 148 N.J.Super. 456 (App. Div. 1977), neither a litigant nor a Court could extend or lessen this 20-year period for bringing an action on a judgment.
However, as noted in the case of Adamar of New Jersey, Inc. v. Mason, 399 N.J.Super.
63, (App. Div. 2008) the twenty-year term may be extended for an additional twenty-year term, provided a creditor les a timely motion to revive and satis es the following three elements:
- the judgment is valid and subsisting;
- it remains unpaid in full, or, if in part, the unpaid balance; and
- there is no outstanding impediment to its judicial enforcement; e.g., a stay, a pending bankruptcy proceeding, an outstanding injunctive order, or the like.
It is immaterial to creditor’s entitlement to extend its judgment for another 20-year cycle whether the debtor has been accessible or whether the creditor has sought to execute on its judgment.