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What is a Certificate of Judgment in Ohio?

Melissa Lyken | October 19, 2022

Fight debt collectors whether you live in Ohio or not.

Summary: A certificate of judgment in Ohio is essentially a legal document that gives someone the right to place a lien on another's property after a court has made a judgment and it has not been fulfilled. If you're being sued for debt in Ohio, SoloSuit can help you avoid having a judgment ordered against you.

Have you received a certificate of judgment 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 judgment allows a creditor to collect a debt owed from the debtor or defendant through the court where the trial occurred.

This article covers everything you should know about a certificate of judgment in Ohio and what it entails.

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What is a certificate of judgment?

According to Ohio Revised Code Section 2329.07:

"Certificate of judgment" means a certificate issued by a clerk of courts in which the judgment was rendered, under the seal of the court, under section 2329.02 or 2329.04 of the Revised Code.”

In other words, a certificate of judgment is a sealed court document that certifies a judgment has been ordered by the court.

You're probably wondering what a certificate of judgment means for the party that started the lawsuit. This document grants the creditor certain rights. Keep reading to learn more.

Ohio Revised Code Section 2329.02 states:

“Any judgment or decree rendered by any court of general jurisdiction, including district courts of the United States, within this state shall be a lien upon lands and tenements of each judgment debtor within any county of this state from the time there is filed in the office of the clerk of the court of common pleas of such county a certificate of such judgment, setting forth the court in which the same was rendered, the title and number of the action, the names of the judgment creditors and judgment debtors, the amount of the judgment and costs, the rate of interest, if the judgment provides for interest, and the date from which such interest accrues, the date of rendition of the judgment, and the volume and page of the journal entry thereof.

No such judgment or decree shall be a lien upon any lands, whether or not situated within the county in which such judgment is rendered, registered under sections 5309.02 to 5309.98, inclusive, and 5310.01 to 5310.21, inclusive, of the Revised Code, until a certificate under the hand and official seal of the clerk of the court in which the same is entered or of record, stating the date and purport of the judgment, giving the number of the case, the full names of the parties, plaintiff and defendant, and the volume and page of the journal or record in which it is entered, or a certified copy of such judgment, stating such facts, is filed and noted in the office of the county recorder of the county in which the land is situated, and a memorial of the same is entered upon the register of the last certificate of title to the land to be affected.”

So, when a creditor sues someone for a debt they owe and the court grants a judgment, the debtor is required to make payments according to the amount listed in the judgment.

If the debtor still doesn't pay up, the creditor can obtain a certificate of judgment and put liens on the debtor's property to collect the debt. The liens cannot be put into place until a certificate of judgment has been stamped by the same court that ordered the original judgment.

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, the creditor can file a certificate of judgment if the defendant fails to make partial or full payment within the set time frame.

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. According to Ohio state law, creditors can seize the following property from a debtor with a certificate of judgment:

  • Vehicles
  • Homes
  • 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.

Let's take a look at an example.

Example: Jason gets sued by his credit card company for a debt he owes. He knows that he owes the debt, so he admits to everything. The credit card requests a summary judgment, and the court grants it. After a few months of not paying on the judgment, Jason finds out that the credit card company has obtained a certificate of judgment, giving them the rights to seize his property. He ends up with a lien on his house which obligates him to pay off the judgment as originally ordered by the court.

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: 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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Your creditor will 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 judgment

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

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