J is for Judicial Lien

A judicial lien is a little surprise Ohio law has for you if you lose a lawsuit in Lorain County. Remember those guys who run for State office every four years? They promise you everything and anything to get your vote. Then they deliver to the credit card companies, banks, and pay day lenders who bank roll them. The judicial lien is just one of those little gifts they gave to those who can’t vote, but pay for the campaigns.

Judicial Lien Is Created

To be fair, this is not a new wrinkle in collection law. It has been around longer than I have been a Lorain County bankruptcy attorney. Exactly what is a it?  It is a charge against real estate you own in the county where a judgment against you is filed.  Here is how the process happens:

  1. A creditor files a lawsuit against you
  2. The creditor obtains a judgment against you
  3. The creditor obtains a certificate of judgment from the clerk of the court granting the judgment.
  4. The certificate of judgment, or CJ, is filed with the clerk of court for any county common pleas court in which you have any interest in real property. The mere filing creates the judicial lien.

In Ohio it lasts for 7 years. That is the same length of time a judgment lasts. After 7 years a judicial lien cannot be renewed unless the creditor first renews the underlying judgment.

If the CJ is not filed with the clerk of court of the county in which your property is located, it is ineffective. I recently saw a situation where the State of Ohio obtained a tax judgment. They filed the CJ in Lorain County. The property was in another county. This filing did not attach to the property.

If a judgment exists, but the CJ is not filed in the correct place, then other creditors can jump in priority in the event of foreclosure, or sale of the property. In Ohio liens are paid in the order of filing.

To be paid, a lien holder in Lorain County can wait for the property to sell, be foreclosed upon, or they can commence their own foreclosure on the lien.

Eliminate it in Bankruptcy

Filing bankruptcy does not by itself extinguish a judicial lien in Lorain County. If it impairs your homestead exemption, your Lorain County bankruptcy attorney can file a motion with the bankruptcy court to avoid it. A copy of the order of the bankruptcy court should be filed with the clerk of court to insure the lien is removed.

This procedure applies to any judicial liens that impair the homestead exemption. Impair the homestead exemption means that after subtracting your mortgage balances from the value of your home, any remaining equity is protected by the Ohio homestead exemption. If the judicial lien cuts into any of this exempt equity, then it can be avoided by the bankruptcy court.

If you are sued in Lorain County, and you own or have any interest in real property, you need to seriously consider the impact of a judicial lien in addition to the common threats of wage garnishment, or bank attachment. Filing bankruptcy may be your best and only answer.  Best to do it even before a civil judgment creates the rights to take these steps.

Other articles in the Bankruptcy Alphabet Series:

  1. Marin County Bankruptcy Attorney, Catherine Eranthe says J is for Joint Filing.
  2. Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska Bankruptcy Attorney, Ryan D. Caldwell says J is for Judgment
  3. New York Bankruptcy Lawyer, Jay S. Fleischman says J is for Your Personal Finance lawyer.  Don’t freak.  He knows the alphabet.  He created this series.  He’s writing about himself, so I guess J is for Jay.
  4. Northern California Bankruptcy Lawyer, Cathy Moran says J is for Justify.
  5. For a Colorado perspective on my topic Colorado Springs Bankruptcy Attorney Bob Doig says J is for Judgment Liens.
  6. Hawaii Bankruptcy Attorney, Stuart T. Ing claims J is for Joint Debts.
  7. Los Angeles Bankruptcy Attorney, Mark J. Markus writes about J is for Justice in Bankruptcy.
  8. Wisconsin Bankruptcy Lawyer, Bret Nason says J is for Jail.
  9. Metro Richmond Consumer and Bankruptcy Attorney, Mitchell Goldstein claims J is for Jurisdiction.
  10. Downriver, Michigan Bankrutpcy Lawyer, Christopher McAvoy blogs J is for Joint bankruptcy filing.
  11. Philadelphia Suburban Bankruptcy Lawyer, Chris Carr writes about Judgment Liens as well.
  12. For another take on joint filing check out Marin County Bankruptcy Attorney, Catherine Eranthe.
  13. Livonia Michigan Bankruptcy Attorney, Peter Behrmann runs through  Joint Bankruptcy too.

Creative Commons License photo credit: {Guerrilla Futures | Jason Tester}




Bill Balena

Bill Balena is an attorney with offices in Westlake, Ohio. He represents consumers in Chapter 7, Chapter 13, and Federal Student Loan Resolution. He is a former city prosecutor, and an accomplished OVI, DUI, DUS and criminal trial attorney.

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William Balena
Lorain and Cuyahoga County Bankruptcy Attorney

30400 Detroit Road
Suite 106
Westlake, OH 44145
(888) 633-5426 Toll Free
(866) 936-6113 Toll Free FAX
(440) 365-2000 Local Elyria Number

By appointment in Elyria

I am not your lawyer, and nothing in this site creates that relationship. Bankruptcy law requires that for me to be your bankruptcy lawyer you and I must have a written contract. So, unless we both agree in writing, you are not my client.

I am a debt relief agency. I help people file for bankruptcy relief under the bankruptcy code.


  1. Bankruptcy Alphabet: Bankruptcy Justice: What Does it Mean? | Bankruptcy Blog from Los Angeles Attorney says:

    […] Attorney Bob Doig Judgment Liens    Philadelphia Suburban Bankruptcy Lawyer, Chris Carr Judicial Lien    Cleveland Area Bankruptcy Lawyer, Bill Balena Jurisdiction    Metro Richmond Consumer and […]

  2. […] For other J bankruptcy terms: Judgment – Your Personal Finance Lawyer – New York Bankruptcy Lawyer, Jay S. Fleischman Justify – Northern California Bankruptcy Lawyer, Cathy Moran Judgment – Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska Bankruptcy Attorney, Ryan D. Caldwell Judgment Liens – Colorado Springs Bankruptcy Lawyer Bob Doig Joint Filing – Marin County Bankruptcy Attorney, Catherine Eranthe Judicial Lien – Cleveland Area Bankruptcy Lawyer, Bill Balena […]

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