In Arizona, a judgment is initially effective for five (5) years from the date of its entry by the Clerk of the Court. Arizona's legislature has determined that the Judgment Debtor will be released from further obligation unless a Judgment Creditor timely files a renewal affidavit or otherwise brings an action on the judgment within five years after its entry. Inherent in this statute of limitations is the risk that a party who owes money may escape liability if the creditor does not act in a timely fashion. Fidelity Nat. Financial Inc. v. Friedman, 225 Ariz. 307 (2010). The affidavit of renewal serves to notify interested parties of the existence and continued viability of the Judgment. J.C. Penney v. Lane, 197 Ariz. 113 (CA1, 1999).
Upon notification of entry of the Judgment by the Clerk of the Court, the best practice is to obtain one or more Certified copies (typically for a fee of around $30) and then immediately cause the same to be recorded in every county in which the Judgment Debtor has (or may in the future) acquire real property. The recorded copy requires a Judgment Information sheet as the cover page, and should include a calculation worksheet detailing the amounts due under the Judgment and accruing interest.
A copy of the Recorded Judgment should be mailed to the Judgment Creditor at the last known address or the address for service of process (in the event of default judgments) to avoid collateral attacks on the Judgment later on. Note that effective 21-Jul-2011, the interest rate attributable to judgments entered after that date is tied to the prime lending rate. A sample Judgment Information Sheet and Judgment Calculation Worksheet is attached.
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