Judgments cannot be removed from credit reports simply because of bankruptcy. The reporting of the judgment should be updated to include the narrative "discharged in bankruptcy" or something substantially similiar, but they will still be reported as judgments. This is why I stress to my clients to file bankruptcy, if possible, BEFORE a judgment is rendered in a matter.
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Your credit reports should automatically update to say 'paid bankruptcy'. If they don't you can write to the reporting bureaus and request the change.
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In NJ, one year after the entry of your discharge, you can file a motion with the Superior Court to remove any pre-petition discharged judgments from the judgment record. These judgments are sometimes referred to as "zombie judgments," since the underlying debt is no longer collectible, but the judgement remains on the record/docket even after the completion of the bankruptcy.
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After your bankruptcy discharge the creditor holding a judgment is supposed to update the reported judgment as "discharged in bankruptcy." However, the judgment is part of your credit history and will remain on your credit report for up to 7 years. If the judgment resulted in a lien against real property you own and that lien could be "stripped" because it is not supported by equity in your real property, that lien should be stripped by motion in the bankruptcy court before the completion of your bankruptcy case. If the case is completed and the lien resulting from the judgment is not stripped in the bankruptcy case, in NJ, one year after the discharge is granted in the bankruptcy court, a motion to strip off the judgment lien can be made in the State Superior Court. Understand that the bankruptcy discharge removes your obligation to pay the judgment but the lien survives the bankruptcy. If you do not strip the judgment lien, when you go to sell or refinance your real property, the Title Insurance Company is going to want that lien satisfied, or they will want a court order showing that it was "stripped off."
I have to toss my 2cents in. this is one of the most frustrating things to me as a bankruptcy lawyer. This concern over removing old items from a credit report. First, you need to know that it is an uphill battle and letter writing campaign you have to engage in with the reporting companies… all of them individually… and each agency has to be convinced to remove the listing. Second, the far better way to use your energy is to rebuild your credit. get a single credit ares. use is sparingly and pay it off IN FULL every month. Never carry a balance and never charge excessively. If possible, get some other manageable extension of credit, such as a car loan or lease, or a rental. Again, be timely with your payments and do not miss payments. With excellent post-petition credit your score will go up. But it is a matter of time. There is no get out of mail free card. You have to be diligent and you have take the time and re-build your credit.
Best of luck to you and… Make it a Great Day!
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