A judgment is a money award given to the plaintiff because of a successful lawsuit. The judgment generally remains valid for five to seven years. In states like New York, the judgment is valid for up to 20 years. But after 20 years, the judgment becomes dormant. 

What is a Dormant Judgment?

A dormant judgment is a civil judgment that lapses or becomes invalid.

What Happens When the Judgment Lapses?

The plaintiff cannot collect on the debt by:

  • Garnishing wages
  • Garnishing bank accounts
  • Levying property 

Instead, the plaintiff must ask the defendant to voluntarily pay the debt. 

Can The Plaintiff Revive the Debt?

Yes, most states allow the plaintiff to revive the debt. The plaintiff usually has 10 years from the date the judgment lapses to file a motion to revive the dormant judgment.

What Can I Do To Fight The Motion to Revive the Judgment?

A defendant can file an answer to the motion. The answer must include a legal reason the defendant should win the motion. In a motion to revive a dormant judgment answer, the defendant has generally three legal challenges: 

  • The debt was satisfied 
  • The debt was settled 
  • The plaintiff’s motion should be denied because of statute of limitations 

The defendant can also file a separate motion to vacate the judgment.

What Does Vacate The Judgment Mean?

The motion asks the court to withdraw the original judgment order because of a legal reason such as:

  • A clerical mistake
  • Newly discovered evidence to justify a new trial
  • Misrepresentation or fraud on the plaintiff’s part 

Do I Have Any Other Options to Avoid Having the Debt Revived?

Yes, a defendant can file bankruptcy. Personal bankruptcy is a way to either eliminate debts or pay debts over time. For example, a Chapter 7 bankruptcy will expunge the judgment so the defendant won’t have to pay it. 

Should I Talk to a Lawyer Regarding My Dormant Judgment?

Yes. Consult a bankruptcy lawyer about your options to fight the judgment request or file bankruptcy.