Texas Writs of Garnishment to Collect Judgment Liens in Austin County Texas
At Busby & Associates, we are here to help judgment creditors who are struggling to collect from a debtor. We offer a wide range of legal services related to judgments, including defense, collection, and enforcement. Our main area of focus is garnishing bank accounts and financial institutions, but we also provide support for consumer bankruptcy, family law, and divorce cases, for both obligors and obligees under child support liens. Additionally, we can assist with the domestication of foreign child support liens in Texas. Give us a call and we’ll guide you through the process and help you collect your judgment, when your debtor lives in Austin County, Texas.
Texas Judgment liens
A judgment lien is established by filing and indexing an abstract of judgment in Austin County; the appropriate county, which applies to all non-exempt real property of the judgment debtor within that county. The lien lasts for ten years, unless the judgment becomes dormant. To be valid for a judgment lien, the underlying judgment must be final and not interlocutory. Even if the judgment is being appealed, steps can still be taken to establish a lien before the appeal. It’s important to remember that these rules only apply to Texas state trial court judgments and not to judgments from other states or foreign countries, which must first be domesticated in Texas to create a lien.
Texas Abstract of Judgment
According to Texas law, the responsibility of preparing an abstract of judgment falls on either a judge, justice of the peace, clerk of the court, or the judgment creditor’s agent, attorney, or assignee. This rule does not apply to small claims and justice courts, where the judgment creditor is not permitted to prepare their own abstract. Additionally, it is important to note that abstracts of federal court judgments must be certified by the clerk of the court.
A valid Texas abstract of judgment must show the following information: (1) the names of the plaintiff and defendant; (2) the defendant’s birthdate, if known to the clerk of justice; (3) the final three digits of the defendant’s driver’s license number, if available; (4) the final three digits of the defendant’s social security number, if available; (5) the suit number in which the judgment was rendered; (6) the defendant’s address or, if not listed in the suit, the citation’s details and the date and location of service; (7) the date of judgment; (8) the amount of the judgment and the remaining balance; (9) any outstanding child support arrearage; (10) the interest rate specified in the judgment. Also, it is important to note that the abstract must include the mailing address for each plaintiff or judgment creditor, or a penalty fee will be imposed. Additionally, the abstract prepared by the creditor’s attorney must be verified and unsworn declarations are not acceptable.
The abstract of judgment must be recorded by the county clerk in Austin County (where the debtor owns real property). This process includes filing it in the Austin County’s real property records, documenting the date and time of recordation, and adding the names of all parties involved in the judgment, as well as the page number in the records where the abstract is recorded, to the alphabetical index of the real property records.
Abstracts of Domesticated Judgments.
Judgments obtained through the Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act and the Uniform Foreign-Country Money Judgments Recognition Act are treated as if they were filed in the court where they were granted. This applies to the holder of the foreign judgment seeking to domesticate it in Texas, who must also meet the lien requirements. In Austin County, you would record the judgment with the County Clerk, whose address is 265 N Chesley Street, Ste #7 Bellville, Texas 77418.
Property to Which Lien Attaches Non-Exempt Real Property
The judgment lien attaches to any real property in Austin County (the county of recordation) that belongs to the defendant and is not exempt.
Keeping the Judgment and Judgment Lien Alive
- Non-governmental Judgments
The lien established by a judgment remains in effect for 10 years after recording and indexing, unless the judgment becomes dormant. To maintain the lien, one must take steps to both keep the judgment active and record a new abstract. If no writ of execution is issued within 10 years of the judgment’s rendition, the judgment becomes dormant. It can be reactivated by either scire facias or by filing an action of debt before the second anniversary of the judgment becoming dormant.
- State or State Agency Judgments.
A judgment from a state or state agency does not lose its validity over time and can be secured through a lien for 20 years from the date of filing an abstract of judgment, which can be extended for a further 20 years by filing a renewed abstract of judgment.
- Political Subdivisions.
According to the dormancy statutes, judgments made by political subdivisions may become dormant. However, the same section clarifies that these judgments are not subject to the statute of limitations outlined in Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 31.006. This means that dormant judgments made by political subdivisions can be revived at any time, not just within two years of dormancy.
- Child Support Judgments.
Child support judgments are not affected by the dormancy statute, as stated in Subsection (c) of § 34.001 of the Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code, and apply to all child support judgments.
Property Subject to and Exempt from Execution.
- Property Subject to Execution.
The property of the judgment debtor is open to levy by execution, unless it falls under constitutional, statutory, or other legal exemptions. Typically, cash, boats, collections, stocks, bonds, and airplanes are not considered exempt property. However, corporations have no property that is considered exempt.
- Property Exempt from Execution.
For both families and single adults, certain property is exempt from execution, which includes: the primary residence, personal possessions with a value of up to $100,000 for families and $50,000 for single adults as specified by statute, wages earned for personal services (excluding child support), unpaid commissions for personal services not exceeding 25% of the $50/$100,000 aggregate limit, health aids prescribed by a professional, worker’s compensation payments, cemetery plots held for sepulcher, property that the judgment debtor sold, mortgaged, or conveyed in trust if the purchaser, mortgagee, or trustee can provide alternative property to satisfy the execution, assets in the hands of a trustee of a spendthrift trust for the benefit of the judgment debtor, certain insurance benefits, and certain savings plans such as retirement benefits and health savings plans, college savings plans, and consigned artwork.
WRITS OF GARNISHMENT
In order to collect a judgment, the creditor can use the post-judgment garnishment process to investigate any financial connections between the debtor and a third party. If any funds or property are found to be owed to the debtor, the creditor can then obtain a garnishment judgment, requiring the third party to pay them to the creditor instead of the debtor.
Requirements to Issue
Garnishment can take place only if the following conditions are present: a) The creditor holds a final and subsisting judgment against the debtor, b) The debtor has not filed an approved supersedeas bond to halt execution of the judgment, and c) The creditor attests that, to their knowledge, the debtor does not possess enough property in Texas that can be used to pay off the judgment.
Procedure for Securing Issuance Jurisdiction and parties
The process of post-judgment garnishment is a separate legal action from the main lawsuit that it is used to enforce. This ancillary action is brought against a third-party garnishee as the defendant. The application for post-judgment garnishment should be filed in the same court that issued the judgment to be collected, under a different cause number. For instance, if the original suit was filed in the 245th judicial district court of Austin County, Texas, the garnishment action should also be filed in Austin County.
Service of the writ of garnishment/notice to judgment debtor.
The writ of garnishment must be served upon the garnishee. Participation of the judgment defendant is not required in the garnishment action, but they must be provided with a copy of the writ of garnishment, accompanying affidavits, the application and court orders as soon as it is practical after the writ is served on the garnishee. Additionally, the copy of the writ served upon the defendant must be in 12-point type and be clearly written to inform a reasonably attentive person of its contents. Failure to give proper notice to the judgment debtor will render any judgment, other than one dissolving the writ, void.
Banks as Garnishees
In compliance with Section 201.102 and 201.103 of the Finance Code, writs of garnishment served on garnishee banks must be delivered to the address of the registered agent of the financial institution, as listed in the registration statement filed with the Secretary of State. This applies to out-of-state financial institutions, which must register with the Secretary of State and appoint an agent for the process, as well as Texas financial institutions, which may file a statement with the Secretary of State appointing an agent for the process.
Pursuant to Tex. R. Civ. P. 663, the officer charged with executing a writ of garnishment must submit a return. The judgment creditor should review this return thoroughly, particularly in cases of default judgment, before proceeding with a garnishment judgment. The rules governing citations also apply to returns in garnishment proceedings. In the past, defects in returns have been identified for failing to indicate the method of service on a corporate garnishee and the location of service.
Forms for the form and Practical Procedure
Before a bank account or other debt can be garnished, it is necessary to locate the account and confirm that there are sufficient funds to make the process cost-effective. Once this is confirmed, an Application for Garnishment must be filed along with a supporting affidavit. The affidavit, typically signed by the attorney representing the judgment creditor, should include the following details: a. Original suit and judgment information, including any credits applied to the judgment; b. The correct name of the garnishee and the contact information for the officers who may be served; and c. Account names and numbers, if available.
Busby and Associates can assist in collecting your Texas judgment on a contingency basis, and can also help you garnish a bank account or financial institution within Austin County; the county of the judgment debtor. Judgments from other states where the debtor is located in Texas are evaluated individually and may require a retainer.