Legal Effect of a Judgment
Judgments are valid for ten (10) years and are generally awarded for a specific sum of money. Before the expiration of this ten (10) year
period, an action may be brought on the judgment which has the effect of renewing the judgment for an additional ten (10) years. Judgments act
as a lien against any real property owned by the defendant, which means the plaintiff has the legal right to sell that real property at any
time and a defendant must pay the judgment against him/her in its entirety prior to selling that real property themselves. Additionally,
judgments are usually detected by credit reporting agencies and can severely impact an individual's credit rating.
Judgment Creditor/Debtor, Judgment Collection
The following is a summation of the process that is required for the plaintiff or judgment creditor to pursue the execution of a judgment awarded against a defendant or judgment debtor:
After the Small Claim or District Court case is heard and a judgment is obtained, it is entered in the public record. The plaintiff (judgment creditor) is required to wait 30 days before beginning the collection process on a District Court judgment and 10 days on a Small Claim judgment.
Once the waiting period has passed the plaintiff may come to the Clerk of Superior Court's Office (11th floor) and pick up a Notice of Rights to Have Exemptions Designated or NORDS packet. This information must be read very carefully to ensure that all of the necessary steps are taken to execute judgments. The Administrative Office of the Courts has made these forms available online so by clicking on the form number links below, you may download them and fill them in if you have Adobe Acrobat Reader. If you do not have Adobe, you may download it by clicking here. If the judgment was granted prior to January 1, 2006, AOC-CV-406 and 407 must be used; if the judgment was granted after January 1, 2006, AOC-CV-406 and 415 must be used.
The NORDS packet must be officially served either through certified mail or the Sheriff's Office. The fees for the post office may vary but the fee for the Sheriff's Office is $30 per defendant. Payment can be made via business check (if the business is on our registered checks list), money order (made out to the Wake County Sheriff's Office), as well as cash. The Sheriff's fee applies to the service of NORDS, Writ of Possession, and Writ of Executions.
After the defendant is served with the NORDS, if they are an individual, they have 20 days to return the document to the Clerk of Superior Court's Office. If the debtor is a company the 20 days is waived and the creditor may collect on the company immediately. The Clerk decides which property is exempt and which property can be collected. After the Clerk decides which property is exempt, a copy of this document is served to the defendant and plaintiff. When the plaintiff receives exempt property/judgment amount, the execution process begins. The writ of execution form is found here. Fees are:
The execution amount is cross referenced with the amount granted by the judge. Once judgments are granted, interest begins to accrue, and additional court costs may occur. The judgment total is calculated by the Clerk's Office. The Sheriff's Office is in charge of collecting the judgment and distributing it to the plaintiff.
The plaintiff must give the defendant 10 days following the judgment to respond; if the defendant has not responded by the 11th day, then a writ of possession of real property can be issued and served on the defendant by the sheriff. The writ of possession of real property can be found by clicking here. This form is filled out, brought to the Clerk's Office for endorsement (11th floor), and forwarded to the Sheriff's Office with the service fee below.
For more information on the processes involved in collecting or paying a judgment and/or the rights of judgment debtors, you may visit the
Civil Division on the 11th floor of the Wake County Courthouse. Please see Directions for our location.