How long a judgment against you lasts depends on state law. But creditors can renew judgments, so you may be on the hook for a long time.
How long does a creditor have to collect on a judgment against me?
That depends on the laws of your state, and the method that the creditor uses to try and collect on that judgment. Usually, judgments are valid for several years before they expire or “lapse.” In some states, a judgment is effective between five to seven years. In other states, like New York, it can be twenty years or longer.
the date that a creditor last tried to execute (collect) on the judgment, or
the later date of either event.
(To learn more about judgments,
including how creditors get them, visit our Creditor Lawsuits topic area. To learn how creditors collect judgments, visit Debt Collection: Repossession, Wage Garnishments, Bank Levies, and More .)
Renewing Judgments Restarts the Cycle
Potentially, a judgment can effectively become permanent. That is because many states allow creditors to renew their judgments. That means that if a creditor gets a court order or files an affidavit or other document, it can renew the judgment for another cycle. In some states, creditors are allowed to renew a judgment once or twice. In others, there is no limit.
When a Judgment Lapses
If a judgment creditor does not renew a judgment on time, then that judgment lapses. A judgment may also lapse if the creditor does not do anything to execute on that judgment for a certain period of time. When a judgment lapses (or becomes “dormant”), the creditor can no longer legally enforce it. That means a creditor cannot: