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Alabama Judgement Records

Alabama judgment records are official court files containing courts' decisions on lawsuits in written or electronic format. The documents state the pronouncements by judges in favor of one of the parties in the arguments, which may include ordering the losing parties to make payments or actions of rectification. Once a judge issues a verdict, the Clerk or the Registrar of the court records the Judgment. The judgment recorder also updates the file when a party in the case fulfills the court's impositions or reaches the court-approved settlement.

Alabama courts maintain judgment records as a part of a civil case record, constituting the name of the court, the names of the parties in the case, monetary awards imposed or other verdicts, date of issuance, and the names of the legal representatives (if applicable). Like other information included in Alabama court records, judgment record information can be assessed by interested and eligible persons on request.

What is a Judgment?

A judgment is a judge's pronouncement that serves as the final verdict of legal action. The ruling states the rights and liabilities of both parties in a civil action, including compensating the plaintiff and other activities or payments the defendant is to make.

Alabama Judgment Laws

Alabama Code Title 6 (Civil Practice), Chapter 9 (Judgements) contains Alabama judgment laws. The chapter consists of 11 articles that cover the registration of judgments, the procedure for the execution of adjudications, the authority of verdicts and to whom they apply, the limitations of the judgments, the disposal of decisions after executions, the revival of judgments, the transfer of rulings, and other relevant Acts related to judgments in the state.

What is Judgment Lien?

A judgment lien is a charge placed upon a defendant's properties to serve as security for the plaintiff who expects a payment. The judgment lien is a collection order to the winning party as the court does not enforce a judgment directly. The lien authorizes the petitioner to seize or sell the defaulter's property to pay off the debt owed in the eventuality that the debtor fails to pay. Also, the judgment lien prevents the defaulter from selling off, hiding, or transferring the property until the party pays the debt. However, per Alabama Code § 6-9-211, a creditor only accesses the privilege of the judgment lien if the party files the notice at the office of the probate court in the county where the debtor's property is situated.

What is an Alabama Summary Judgement?

Following Rule 56 of Alabama Rules of Civil Procedure, summary judgment is a method for disposing of a civil action speedily when there is no genuine issue as to material fact. In addition, a summary judgment allows a case to be adjudged without trial due to the non-existence of the fact in either the claim or the defense. However, the court considers a summary judgment if one of the parties moves to file for it and proves no issue of fact exists. If the court establishes no genuine issue to try following depositions, pleadings, admissions on file, and affidavits, the court renders a summary judgment. Nevertheless, a summary judgment may only cover the liability of one party in the action. Still, when it comes to paying a certain amount for damages, it may constitute a genuine reason for further court proceedings.

What is a Summary Judgment Motion in Alabama?

A party files a summary judgment motion for a favorable ruling on all or part of a claim without a trial. The filing entity must support the motion with a narrative summary of the claim that the party considers undisputed material facts, specific references to pleadings, portions of discovery materials, affidavits, or citations to legal authority. If the opposing party does not support the motion, the individual may file a statement of opposition with the court.

The procedure and requirements for filing a summary judgment motion are stated in Rule 56 of the Alabama Rules of Civil Procedure. While a defendant may file a summary judgment motion at any time during the legal action, the plaintiff may only file a motion for summary judgment after thirty days from the commencement of the action or after the defendant has filed a motion.

Alabama Judgment Record Search

According to the Alabama Public Records Act, court records in Alabama are public information. Hence, members of the public may request to view the details of a case judgment. The exceptions to public viewings are records that involve juveniles or those specifically sealed by the court. Therefore, interested individuals may make physical appearances at the courthouses where the case was adjudged to request judgment records. Furthermore, Alabama citizens may search for judgment records remotely through the state's courts' public access system or other third-party websites. In some instances, sealed decision files may not be available to a person who does not have a personal relationship with the case.

How Do I Look Up a Judgment in Alabama?

An interested person may view a verdict at the Clerk of Court Office in the courthouse of adjudication. However, the inquirer must put the request into writing, highlighting the relevant details about the record, such as the defendant's name, the case number, and the date of issuance. If the request is granted, the Clerk provides a copy of the Judgment after the requester pays the applicable fee.

A requestor may also check a judgment online either through the repository maintained by the Alabama judiciary or through third-party websites. The use of the Alabama public access system comes with a fee, while third-party websites may or may not charge a fee for providing judgment files on request.

What Happens if You Have a Judgment Against You in Alabama?

If a court issues a judgment against an individual, the party must perform an obligation. The court may order that the defendant acts within the time specified to avoid further legal action or unappealing legal steps the winner may employ.

If the losing party is to pay some amount of money and refuses to do so, the claimant may take steps to force payment. In addition, if the plaintiff files the Judgment with the court where the defaulter lives, a judgment lien is placed on the debtor's property which gives the claimant the right to seize the property or sell it to pay the debt. This may also prevent the debtor from transferring or selling the property. Usually, the Sheriff serves the execution papers to the defaulting party stating the impending action against the property. The debtor has at least five days to file a claim of exemption or try to settle with the creditor. If neither of these happens, the Sheriff sets a date to sell the property.

The claimant may also act to garnish the debtor's wages, which means certain sums may be periodically deducted from the defaulter's wages to pay the creditor without the borrower's consent.

How Do I Find Out if I Have Any Judgments Against Me in Alabama?

The existence of a current judgment against an individual is verifiable in several ways. The first is to submit a request to the Clerk of the Court. If the Clerk honors the request, the inquirer may then view any pending judgment. The second is by searching through online resources, either the state courts database or through third-party websites.

Another means is by checking mails for delivered information about a current judgment. This may be applicable for a default judgment the court enters if the defendant fails to appear for a court hearing.

How Long Does a Judgment Stay on Your Record?

A judgment in Alabama is valid for ten years and is renewable for another ten years if it has not been satisfied. During this time, the decision appears on the debtor's record and may impact credit rating until the party pays up.

How to Enforce a Judgment in Alabama

In Alabama, judgments involving accounts and contracts are generally enforceable by the winners in the legal actions. A creditor may enact a judgment lien based on how much equity property the debtor has, other liens, and the debtor's financial standing. Depending on exemptions, lenders may try to garnish wages, place a judgment lien on real property, personal property, and vehicle or arrange for the Sheriff to seize whatever property the loanee owns. However, wage garnishment only works if a debtor has a job. Also, a creditor may only subtract 75% of income after employment taxes are deducted from a paycheck when garnishing.

On the other hand, it is possible to domesticate a judgment in Alabama (which means to enforce it as if it were awarded in Alabama). To domesticate a judgment in Alabama, the creditor must authenticate the decision along with an affidavit listing the debtor's name and last known mailing address with an Alabama court close to the defaulter's assets.

How to Collect a Judgment in Alabama

Usually, it is the responsibility of the creditor to collect a judgment and not the court. However, the creditor may follow the guidelines below to execute a judgment in the state of Alabama;

Get a Judgment Record: The lender must obtain a judgment record from the Circuit Clerk's Office and file it with the appropriate court. The creditor cannot enforce or collect a judgment until the date on the invitation to appeal has passed, which is 14 days for District Court appeals or 42 days for Circuit Court appeals.

Execution on Real Property or Personal Property: If a debtor owns property throughout several counties, it is crucial to file in all locations where the property is located. The defendant may then execute the Judgment on real property owned by the defendant.

Garnishment of Wages or Bank Accounts: An alternative method of obtaining a judgment is by garnishing wages or bank accounts. To satisfy the verdict, the court may compel the debtor's employer to pull out 25% of the borrower's wages to fulfill the Judgment.

What Happens if a Defendant Does Not Pay a Judgment in Alabama

When a defendant delays the performance of a judgment, the party is likely to suffer several negative consequences, such as the seizure of property and wages, possible jail time, increase in interest and fees, and the Judgment may appear on the defendant's credit history. Moreso, if the plaintiff obtains an execution order, a Sheriff may then go-ahead to take charge of any property belonging to the debtor and sell it to cover the funds.

Judgments amass interests for as long as they are active, regardless of whether the defendants are ready to pay or not. Unpaid Judgment may lower a defendant's credit rating, making it more challenging to borrow money. The defaulter may have to wait for the decision to expire to remove it from their credit report.

What Personal Property Can Be Seized in a Judgment in Alabama?

Under Alabama Code § 6-9-40, a judgment lien in Alabama could be attached to a debtor's real property such as a condo and land the defendant has a legal title or equity, having paid the purchase money, or vested interest. A judgment lien also applies to the debtor's personal property such as jewelry, art, antiques, vehicles, and other valuables. Regardless of whether the real estate or personal property was sold, a judgment lien remains on the property for ten years.

Alabama Judgment Interest Rate

Under Alabama Code § 8-8-10, a judgment interest rate is based on the contract actions and the interest stated in the agreement. Nevertheless, the judgment interest rate begins to count from the date of issue. Judgments requiring payment of money usually attract 7.5% interest rates.

Meanwhile, Alabama Code § 8-8-1 states that the interest rate on $100 should not be more than $6 for one year, except the contract states otherwise. In that case, the maximum interest rate would be $8 on $100 per year.

What is a Default Judgment?

Typically, a default judgment means the complainant wins the case automatically. Under Alabama Judgment Rule 55, the court issues a default judgment when the defendant in the litigation does not defend the accusation, fails to plead, or refuses to appear in court. However, the court may not dispense default judgment against minors or incompetent persons. Nonetheless, a respondent may file a motion to set aside the default judgment at the court.

How to File a Motion to Set Aside Default Judgment in Alabama

A defendant may apply to set aside a default judgment at the court of adjudication within thirty days after the court issued the default judgment. On the other hand, at the court's discretion, judicial officers may sit on the case to review the automatic verdict within the thirty-day timeline without the losing party's application. Usually, a judicial officer may grant the petition for setting aside if there was a mistake on the part of the court or the plaintiff or if the applicant has strong reason to believe that the absence in court is not intentional. Another reason is if the defendant was not served the summons properly.

How to File Motion to Vacate Judgment in Alabama

Following Alabama Judgment Rule 60, an interested party may seek relief from a judgment by filing a Motion to Vacate Judgment within four months of judgment entry. The court may consider the request if there were clerical mistakes, the legal action is fraudulent, new evidence that proves innocence, or misconduct on the part of the complainant.

How to Remove an Abstract of Judgment in Alabama

An interested party may remove an abstract of Judgment in Alabama by negotiating with the creditor to pay the arrears in installments or whole. If paying in full, the debtor may request a discharge from the lender. Whereas, if the borrower is paying in bits, the party must obtain a release from the creditor. However, the release only exempts real properties contained in the judgment lien. A person may file for the release or discharge in the Clerk's or Recorder's Office in the county the property is situated. Upon filing, the applicant must obtain a certified copy.

Typically, an abstract of judgments grants a lien to a lender on any real property the defaulter has in a particular county. The lien prevents the debtor from obtaining a mortgage or selling the property before repaying what is owed. In Alabama, the judgment lien remains active for ten years, renewable for another ten years. At the same time, a defaulter may remove the lien by filing for either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Chapter 7 bankruptcy helps to eliminate debts, while Chapter 13 bankruptcy aids in creating a repayment plan. Upon filing for bankruptcy, the debtor may request that the court issues an order to remove the lien.

How Long is a Judgment Good for in Alabama

A judgment in Alabama is good for ten years, except the petitioner applies for an additional ten years extension for debt recovery. In that case, the verdict is valid for 20 years. After 20 years, the Judgment becomes null and void.

Alabama Judgment Statute of Limitations Law

The State of Alabama has different statutes of limitations for judgments. For debt collection, the verdict lasts for ten years. Notwithstanding, the creditor may apply to renew the court's decision for another ten years at the end of the ten-year period. If this period elapses again, the loanee has no right to lay claims of the funds from the debtor or renew the verdict anymore. Furthermore, according to Alabama Code Title 6. Civil Practice § 6-2-1, the limitation for Judgment for other civil court cases is 20 years.