Enforcement of Judgments in New Mexico

When a plaintiff sues a defendant to recover monies owed by the defendant and eventually succeeds in winning the suit, an award of damages is incorporated in to the judgment of the court identifying the exact amount of the judgment and whether any court costs, attorney’s fees and interest may also be part of the judgment. (In the event interest is award, the court will state the rate at which it will accrue from a specified date.) But the mere rendering of the judgment in a New Mexico court does not, in and of itself, mean that the defendant will immediately take out his or her checkbook and pay the plaintiff the amount due under the judgment.

Instead the plaintiff – now a judgment creditor – may need to collect the judgment. (In some instances, the defendant may want to resolve the debt quickly and may offer to settle for a lesser amount by threatening to file an appeal or by contending that it lacks funds to pay the judgment in its entirety. The judgment debtor  may claim that he or she has the willingness and ability to pay a lesser amount either in one payment or by installment payments over time.)

One way to collect upon a judgment in New Mexico is to obtain a judgment lien   A judgment lien gives the creditor the right to be paid a certain amount of money from proceeds from the sale of the debtor’s property. The judgment creditor will need to identify where the defendant (now the judgment debtor) has property. Then the creditor should in the appropriate courthouse in that county a transcript of judgment, which creates a lien on any real estate owned by the judgment debtor in the county where the transcript is recorded. The creditor may also do so in any other county in which it is expected the debtor will own property.

These liens are maintained among the county’s property records. People who perform title searches in advance of a potential sale of property will check the record for a particular parcel of property. If a judgment lien has been recorded in that county, the lender on the deal will not close on the deal unless and until the lien is extinguished. This can entail the judgment debtor negotiating a settlement with the judgment creditor before the date of the real estate closing. But the much more common route that is taken is that the judgment debtor agrees, upon the closing of the sale of the property, that a portion of the proceeds from the sale be used to pay off the judgment creditor. This will obviously act as an offset reducing the amount a judgment debtor can gain from selling the property. Frequently, the only time judgment creditors actually collect on their judgment is when such a real estate sale occurs.

In Albuquerque, Giddens & Gatton Law, P.C. has bankruptcy attorneys who offer expert handling of Chapter 7, Chapter 11, Chapter 12 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases in New Mexico. The firm represents many debtors and creditors in Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Taos, Raton, Farmington, Gallup, Grants, Roswell, Los Lunas, Placitas, Belen and the rest of New Mexico. Contact Giddens & Gatton Law, P.C. at (505) 633-6298 to set up an appointment with one of its New Mexico bankruptcy lawyers or visit the firm’s website at giddenslaw.com. Giddens & Gatton Law, P.C. is located at 10400 Academy Road N.E., Suite 350 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.