If you are facing a judgment lien, it is important to take immediate action to protect your assets and financial stability. Judgment liens are created when a party has gone to court and succeeded in securing a judgment against a debtor, typically by default. Knowing what your best options are and how you should go about addressing the situation is a complicated process. At the Bereliani Law Firm, bankruptcy lawyer Sanaz Sarah Bereliani is committed to helping individuals in the Los Angeles area and throughout Southern California. We are ready to assist you in protecting your assets and trying to regain control of the situation.Levies and Garnishments
If you are served with a lawsuit, you have 30 days to respond. If you do not respond, the creditor can obtain a default judgment against you and record the judgment lien with the County recorder’s office. A judgment lien allows a creditor to levy or garnish your wages, or place a lien against any real and personal property you may have, including but not limited to your home. If the judgment creditor pursues a levy, a sheriff has the authority to seize any funds in your accounts. This can create substantial financial distress for the judgment debtor, particularly if he or she receives paychecks through direct deposit. If the judgment creditor pursues a garnishment, he or she is entitled to receive 25% of your gross paycheck. These garnishments will continue until the amount of the judgment is paid.Judgment Liens Against Personal Property
In the event the judgment creditor pursues a lien, your personal and real property are both at risk. Personal property includes bank accounts, cars, CDs, equipment, art, jewelry, and other items. Real property includes a condominium, a house, or a piece of land. To attach the judgment lien, the creditor delivers the judgment to the county recorder’s office for the county in which your property is located. To attach a lien to personal property, the judgment creditor files a notice of judgment lien with the County recorder’s office or serves the debtor with a notice. The judgment lien will remain attached to your personal property for up to 10 years, even if ownership of the property is transferred to someone else. After the 10-year period, the judgment can be renewed if the creditor chooses to renew it, leaving the debtor still at risk of collection efforts.
There are many ways to go about resolving a judgment lien placed against your real or personal property. One way is reaching a settlement with the creditor. If the judgment lien is recorded against real property, such as your home, and the property does not have any equity to support the lien, you may be able to settle with the Creditor by paying a percentage of the total owed on the lien. This option allows the judgment debtor to avoid having to file for bankruptcy, however, keep in mind that when you settle debt of any type, the amount that you save will be seen as income by IRS and you will be taxed. For some people, settlement is not the most cost effective option.
Another option is to file for bankruptcy. Within the bankruptcy filing, a debtor may file a motion to avoid the judicial lien in order to remove cloud from the property title. Further, the bankruptcy filing will provide an "AutoStay protection" protecting the Debtor from any collection/harassment action by this creditor and any others. In order to avoid a judgment lien in a bankruptcy proceeding, the following elements must be satisfied:
- The judgment lien must have been issued by a court;
- You must be entitled to assert an exemption against some or all of the equity in the property subject to the lien; and
- The lien would result in the loss of some or all of the equity subject to exemption (known as impairment) if the property was sold.
This procedure can be used for any real or personal property subject to a judgment lien, including real estate and vehicles.Seek Legal Representation in Los Angeles for Protecting Your Assets
The Bereliani Law Firm understands what you and your family are going through during this stressful and confusing time. A judgment lien can have serious consequences for you and your financial stability. Bankruptcy lawyer Sanaz Sarah Bereliani has helped many Los Angeles residents in filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 as well as in pursuing other ways of fighting judgment liens. If your judgment creditor is hassling you, we can protect your rights, and we are prepared to advocate zealously for the settlement or lien avoidance that you deserve. We offer a free consultation, so you have nothing to lose. Take the first step toward securing your financial future and call us today at (818) 920-8352 or complete our online form. We have represented individuals throughout Southern California, including in Orange County as well as Lancaster, Santa Barbara, Culver City, and Encino.