What is a Judgment?
To paraphrase the civil procedure rules in South Carolina, a Judgment is an order from the court that finally determines the rights of a party – typically stating that the Judgment Holder is entitled to a specific amount of money from another party. While that sounds simple, what does it practically mean to hold a Judgment?
A Judgment creates a debt owed to the Judgment Creditor (the holder of the Judgment) by the Judgment Debtor (who the Judgment is issued against). The Judgment will state precisely who those parties are, and can only be directly enforced against the named Judgment Debtor(s). Enforcing a Judgment includes collecting assets in the Judgment Debtor’s name, and can in certain circumstances extend to the assets owned by entities the Judgment Debtor owns. Some Assets are immediately attached by nature of the Judgment existing in that county/jurisdiction, others require litigation to attach the asset. Judgments are only entered in one county at a time, and must be Transcribed into more counties to take effect there, or be Domesticated to be enforced in another state. When a Judgment is entered in a county, the Judgment automatically and immediately attaches to and puts a Judgment Lien all the real estate in the name of the Judgment Debtor in that county. The lien is public record, and acts like a mortgage entered at that time – impacting the Judgment Debtor’s ability to sell or refinance the property. On top of that, the Judgment Creditor may foreclose on the Judgment Lien as they would a mortgage on the property.
South Carolina Judgments are only enforceable for 10 years from the date they’re entered, and accrue interest through that time. Every Judgment either accrues interest at a variable rate set each year by the Supreme Court of South Carolina or at a rate stated in the Judgment.