Judgment liens against your Texas home can be cancelled in bankruptcy

Posted on Nov 01, 2014

If someone sues you and gets a judgment against you in Texas, one of the first things that they usually do is order an "abstract of judgment" from the court clerk, and then record it in the real property records of the counties in which you own land or houses.

This creates a judgment lien against any and all "non-exempt" property that you own in those counties - just like a mortgage. You cannot sell the properties without paying the judgment, at least if they are not your homestead property.

If you have a rent house, commercial property or recreational lot, for example, and there is a judgment against you, the judgment-creditor can even have a "writ of execution" issued by the judge, ordering a sheriff to sell the property at an "execution sale," an auction.

But as to homestead property, Texas law does not permit a homestead to be sold for an ordinary dischargeable judgment debt. In fact in bankuptcy a "motion to avoid judgment lien" can be filed, and a Bankruptcy Court order obtained "avoiding" or cancelling the judgment.

A recent Houston bankruptcy court Memorandum Opinion sums up the law very succinctly. The debtor owned a home, had a judgment, had to file bankruptcy, and then filed a motion to avoid judgment lien, which was granted. In re Brown, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, SD Texas, 2014.

So if you file bankruptcy, be sure that your lawyer files a motion to avoid judgment lien during your bankruptcy case. There are other ways to get the judgment lien released, but the motion to avoid judgment lien is the simplest and quickest way, in my experience.

 

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