Can I Renew a Money Judgment Before It Expires?

When a civil judgment includes a monetary award, there are statutes of limitations that apply to collection. Judgment creditors only have so much time to seek payment. Once the statute of limitations runs out, that’s it. But this begs a question: can a judgment be renewed before it expires?

Judgments that include monetary awards are sometimes referred to as ‘money judgments’. The question of whether they can be renewed depends on the jurisdiction. A judgment creditor would have to look into state law to know for sure.

The Three Possibilities

Imagine you have an outstanding money judgment against someone who wronged you a decade ago. The statute of limitations in your state is 10 years. As you approach the deadline, you contact your attorney to find out if the judgment can be renewed. There are three possibilities:

  1. Yes – Most states allow judgment renewal. The number of times one can renew, and the length of each renewal, vary from state-to-state. Renewing at least once is the norm.
  1. No – A small number of states do not allow judgment renewal. You have up until the original expiration date and that’s it. If you do not manage to collect the entire debt during that time, you forfeit the remaining balance.
  1. Maybe – This last option is related to renewal limits. Let us say your state allows only two renewals. If you have already renewed twice, you are out of luck the third time.

Kentucky is one of those ‘maybe’ states. According to the experts at Judgment Collectors, Kentucky lawmakers changed the rules in 2023 with new legislation that eliminated unlimited renewals in favor of a single renewal for just 5 years.

Previous to the changes, Kentucky judgments could be renewed in perpetuity. Not only that, the original statute of limitations was 15 years. Now the limit is 10 years. Creditors can only renew once for an additional 5 years.

It’s Not a Lot of Time

If you have never been involved in collecting a judgment, you might be tempted to think that 10 years is plenty of time. It’s not. Anyone who has ever dealt with an uncooperative judgment debtor knows that 10 years can fly by very quickly.

One of the big challenges in judgment collection is time. It is the debtor’s friend and the creditor’s enemy. Making matters worse is the fact that utilizing all the available tools takes time. That is just the way the system works.

Let us say a creditor wants to garnish a debtor’s wages and bank accounts. It is done easily enough. However, it is not done overnight. It takes time to get the paperwork together. It takes time for the local sheriff to deliver the orders to the employer and bank.

It takes time to:

  • Gather information from debtors.
  • Search property records.
  • File judgment liens on personal property.
  • File for writs of seizure.

Even doing something as simple as setting up a payment plan takes time. Attorneys need to work with their respective clients. Then they need to find time on their schedules to get together to negotiate. Nothing is fast in judgment collection.

Out of Time

As a judgment creditor, it is easy to find yourself out of time. Fortunately, most states allow judgment renewal at least once. Those that allow unlimited renewals are the most generous in helping judgment creditors get their due.

Do you have an outstanding judgment you are working on? If so, check your state statutes to learn whether you can renew. If you can’t, you’ll have to work that much harder to make sure you get paid.

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