For How Long is a New York Judgment Enforceable?

By: Robert J. Nahoum

A man in suit and tie with his arms crossed.

The Problem:

You have recently discovered that you had been sued by a debt collector and that judgment has been entered against you.  After some digging you discover that the Judgment is many many years old?  The question you are now asking yourself is – “how old is too old?  For How Long is a New York Judgment Enforceable??

The Rules:

A judgment in New York is generally enforceable for 20 years from the date it was entered.

Judgments in New York act as a lien on real property in the county where the judgment is entered or where the judgment has been transcribed.  With a judgment lien in place, your real property cannot be sold until the judgment is satisfied. A lien is initially enforceable for ten years but can be extended for an additional 10 years.

Judgments accrue interest at the rate of 9% per year.  For this reason, the older the judgment is, the more costly it will be to satisfy.

The 20-year enforceability of New York judgments is too often misunderstood to be absolute – meaning that no matter what, after 20 years, the judgment creditor can no longer collect.  This is unfortunately not the case as two important exceptions apply.

Generally, a money judgment is presumed to be paid and satisfied after the expiration of twenty years from the time when the party recovering it was first entitled to enforce it.  This presumption is conclusive, except as (1) against a person who within the twenty years acknowledges an indebtedness, or (2) makes a payment, of all or part of the amount recovered by the judgment.

In the case of an acknowledgement of the judgment – the acknowledgment must be in writing and must be signed by the judgment debtor.

The more common exception is a payment on the judgment.  If a payment is made on the judgment at any time during the 20-year enforceability period, the 20-year clock restarts.  This exception applies whether the payment was voluntarily made or whether the payment was the result of a levy.

What You Should Do:

With a judgment entered against you it is advisable to resolve it quickly. A judgment allows the debt collector to freeze your banks accounts and garnishee your wages.

To resolve the judgment, you can either settle the case or fight it.  To fight it, you must file an order to show cause to vacate the judgment assuming grounds to do so exist.

If you need help settling or defending a debt collection law suit, stopping harassing debt collectors or suing a debt collector, contact us today to see what we can do for you.

The Law Offices of Robert J. Nahoum, P.C
(845) 232-0202