DEFINITION of 'Judgment Lien'

A court ruling that gives a creditor the right to take possession of a debtor's real property if the debtor fails to fulfill his or her contractual obligations. A judgment lien may be made against an individual or business and allows the creditor to access the debtor's business, personal property and real estate, among other assets, to pay the judgment.

BREAKING DOWN 'Judgment Lien'

When a debtor does not make payment on a loan, the creditor may take legal action to receive the money to which they are entitled. Once the validity of the contract and non-payment is established, the court may order a judgment lien. The actual acquisition of real property requires additional steps.

For example, a judge may place a lien on debtor's car. This way if, the debtor doesn't pay his or her creditor within a certain time period, the car is used to pay off the remaining debt.

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