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Abstracts of Judgement - a Brief Review

In most states, a judgment may be “abstracted” and recorded to create a lien on real property of the judgment debtor in the county in which the abstract is recorded, including after acquired real property.  See e.g., Tex. Prop. Code Ann. § 52.001.  The specific contents of the abstract of judgment are typically prescribed by statute.  See e.g., id. § 52.006.  An abstract must substantially comply with the statutory provisions.  In many instances, the abstract of judgment is a form provided by the clerk of the court.

An abstract of judgment does not constitute a lien on real property if (a) the defendant has posted security as provided by law; and (b) the court finds that the creation of the lien would not substantially increase the degree to which a judgment creditor’s recovery under the judgment would be secured, and a certified copy of the finding of the court is properly recorded. TEX. PROP. CODE ANN. § 52.0011.

Judgment liens may be satisfied by voluntary payment, collection on execution, obtaining another judgment that supersedes the first judgment, and an agreement to satisfy and release the lien.

The priority of a judgment lien created by abstracting the judgment is based on the date of recording the abstract of judgment in the deed records.  In Texas, the lien is good for 10 years following the date of recordation except if the judgment become dormant during the 10 year period the lien ceases to exist.  A dormant judgment is one that has not been satisfied or extinguished by lapse of time, but which execution on the judgment cannot occur unless the judgment is revived.  If a writ of execution is not issued within 10 years from the rendition (signing) of the judgment, the judgment lien is dormant and execution may not issue on the judgment unless it is revived.

Sarah Grace Chastain