What is a Certificate of Judgment in Ohio?

Melissa Lyken

February 10, 2021

Fight debt collectors whether you live in Ohio or not.

Summary: If you've received a Certificate of Judgment in Ohio, know that this is only the beginning. Find out how to protect yourself and your assets.

Have you received a Certificate of Judgement in Ohio? Most assume that their lawsuit is over when the judge completes the ruling. On the contrary, obtaining a judgment in Ohio may be the beginning of the repayment process. If you do not honor the payment plan issued by the court, a creditor can use various methods to collect money owed under their granted order. One of them involves obtaining a certificate of judgment.

Simply put, a Certificate of Judgement allows a creditor to collect a debt owed from the debtor or defendant through the court where the trial occurred. Here's a detailed overview of what a Certificate of Judgement in Ohio entails.

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Learn How a Certificate of Judgment Works

To receive a certificate of judgment, a creditor must have received a judgment in their favor, which essentially means they win the case, and you lose. After the lawsuit is finalized, if the defendant fails to make partial or full payment within the set time frame, the creditor can file a certificate of judgment.

The certificate can only be issued by the court that made the original verdict. The Clerk of Court prepares the certificate that creates a lien on the debtor's property.

A lien is created once the certificate of judgment becomes effective from the date of filing. The lien allows the creditor to possess the debtor's property if they fail to make their required payments. You may be wondering what the creditor can put under a lien. These forms of property include a debtor's:

  1. Vehicles
  2. Homes
  3. Other applicable assets

A lien becomes valid once the certificate is served, which usually happens at your residence or place of employment, much like how the initial summons was served.

Find Out How Living Outside of Ohio Affects Your Certificate of Judgment

Let's say you no longer live in the state of Ohio; what then? The certificate of judgment also applies when a debtor doesn't live or work in the same county as the originating court, i.e., where the verdict was issued. For example, if the creditor lives in Ohio but the debtor resides in Pennsylvania, they can still file for a judgment certificate.

Once the certificate is issued, the court clerk fixes an official seal to the document allowing transfer from one court to another. This allows the court in Pennsylvania to uphold the verdict and demand payment on the creditor's behalf. In this case, a creditor will apply for an examination hearing by providing the following documents:

  • Notice of Examination: It identifies the person who will be examined, i.e., the debtor.
  • Affidavit for Enforcement Request: This document includes details of the court order the creditor wants to enforce. This consists of a record of payments made and the amount of outstanding debt.
  • A Certificate of Judgment

After submitting all three documents, the court sets a hearing date and returns a copy of the documents to the creditor. Once the creditor receives the documents mentioned above, they will serve a copy of the signed Notice of Examination to the debtor.

After you've been served the Notice, the creditor will file the Affidavit of Service with the court. Creditors will generally file this document at least three days before the examination hearing. If you were improperly served, you might want to mention this information to the court at the examination hearing.

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Get Ready for Your Examination Hearing

Both the creditor or the lawyer for the plaintiff and the debtor must attend the examination hearing. During the examination hearing, the debtor is required to provide information on:

  • Their bank accounts
  • The amount of money they have in the bank
  • How much money they make
  • Their expenses
  • If they work and the location
  • Their assets or property
  • Any other information deemed relevant to the case

Once the judge takes all of this information into consideration, the judge may require the debtor to pay the debt in full or make partial payments on specific dates.

It is critical to note the creditor can seize a debtor's land or other property if the debtor fails to pay during the payment plan. In this case, the creditor issues a Writ of Seizure and Sale of Land to allow them to sell the property if the debtor defaults on payment.

Don't Skip Your Examination Hearing

A debtor is deemed in contempt of court if they fail to attend the hearing or refuse to cooperate. The judge will then order a hearing to decide if the debtor acted in contempt or if other factors were at play. If you cannot attend the hearing for some reason, you must call the court to reschedule and provide them with notice instead of not showing up without notice.

If this is the case, the court issues a Notice of Contempt Hearing to the creditor, who must serve it to you at least seven days before the hearing.

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Count on Your Creditor to Keep Coming Back If You Can't Pay Immediately

If the debtor can't pay the debt immediately, the creditor may decide to wait. For example, if the debtor is unemployed but gets a job after a few months, the creditor can still enforce the judgment. However, this time they'd collect the debt through a notice of garnishment. If you receive a writ of garnishment, you may be able to claim certain exemptions to keep your wages from being garnished.

If a debtor fails to follow the payment plan, the creditor can serve them with:

  • A Notice of Default Payment
  • An Affidavit of Default of Payment

These documents allow the creditor to end the payment plan and use the following methods to recover payment:

  • Force the debtor to dispose of property to pay them back
  • Issue an order to have the debtor's income or money in their bank accounts seized

Set Up a Payment Plan to Stop a Certificate of Judgement

Suppose you can make a payment arrangement with the creditor and resume the payment plan created by the judge after the examination hearing. In that case, the creditor must file a Consent Form with the court, so no further action is taken. The Consent Form allows the creditor to forgive you for not following the payment plan.

Receiving a Certificate of Judgement can be a pretty nerve-wracking experience. We hope this information gives you helpful insight into the process.

What is SoloSuit?

SoloSuit makes it easy to respond to a debt collection lawsuit.

How it works: SoloSuit is a step-by-step web-app that asks you all the necessary questions to complete your answer. Upon completion, you can either print the completed forms and mail in the hard copies to the courts or you can pay SoloSuit to file it for you and to have an attorney review the document.

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