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How do I renew a dormant Judgment?

Dallas, TX |

A judgement that was entered more than 10 years ago has never been abstracted. The debtor now wishes to abstract the judgement. Does anything special need to be done and are there any problems in taking this action?

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In order to prevent a judgment or a final assessment from becoming dormant, a writ of execution must be issued within 10 years after the rendition of the judgment or final assessment and within 10 years after the issuance of each previous execution. The Civil Actions Unit begins the renewal process when the judgment or final assessment or previous execution is 9 years and 4 months old.

Computer-generated reports are produced the last day of each month listing all accounts with judgments and final assessments that are due to be renewed within the next 8 months and within the next 4 months. These reports are sorted by accounts that meet the renewal criteria and accounts that do not meet the renewal criteria. Also produced with these reports for all accounts meeting renewal criteria are field renewal memos for the accounts requiring renewal within the next 8 months and execution schedules for the accounts requiring executions within the next 4 months.

The duration of a judgment lien in Texas is ten years. (Twenty years for judgments in favor of the United States of America) While Texas courts have held that a judgment may become dormant prior to the expiration of the judgment, the Company will not waive a judgment of record as an exception based on the dormancy of the judgment.

In Texas, a dormant judgment can be revived by a suit in scire facias within 2 years after it becomes dormant. The abstract of judgment remains viable only for 10 years. The judgment can be subject to a refilled abstract of judgment for 2 additional years.

Ordinarily, when the extension, renewal, or revival occurs before the expiration of the judgment lien, the judgment lien continues in existence and its validity and priority is preserved. However, when the judgment lien expires prior to the extension, renewal, or revival, jurisdictions are divided as to the effect of the extended, renewal, or revival lien upon liens and encumbrances of record.

In addition to the statutory time termination, a judgment lien may also be terminated through any of the following:

The payment or satisfaction of the judgment.
The partial release of the property from the lien of the judgment by the judgment creditor.
The proper foreclosure of a prior lien.
An execution sale and return for the full amount of the judgment.
A final order vacation the judgment.
The reversal of the judgment in appeal proceedings.
By operation of law.
Note: Under the Bankruptcy Code, a judgment lien on real property at the time of the bankruptcy is not affected by the discharge of the debtor (unless otherwise specifically disposed of by an order of the court.) However, see Sec. 52.042 of the Texas Property Code which provides that discharge of a bankrupt (debtor) under federal law cancels a judgment lien that was against property owned by the bankrupt (debtor) before the bankruptcy was filed.

A judgment in favor of the state or a state agency does not become dormant. A properly filed abstract of the judgment continues to constitute a lien under Section 52.001 until the earlier of the 20th anniversary of the date the abstract is recorded and indexed or the date the judgment is satisfied or the lien is released. The judgment lien may be renewed for one additional 20-year period by filing, before the expiration of the initial 20-year period, a renewed abstract of judgment in the same manner as the original abstract of judgment is filed. The renewed judgment lien relates back to the date the original abstract of judgment was filed.

Changes/actions required: search periods for judgments in favor of the State of Texas or its agencies must now be for a minimum of 20 years and abstractors and examiners should also be on the look out for renewals of such judgments.


The debtor normally will not have any reason to want the judgment abstracted, or recorded, and will not want the judgment revived.

However, the creditor can revive the judgment by requesting a new writ of execution. The creditor may also want to re-record the abstract of judgment in any county where the debtor may have property. Although this is not technically necessary to revive the judgment, most title companies will not recognize the judgment as a lien against the property if it has not been recorded within 10 years.

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