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How Long Does a Credit Report Judgement Remain in Effect?

Updated on February 10, 2011

If you leave a debt unpaid, you may just end up with a credit report judgment. A credit report judgment will show up on your credit report and significantly damage your credit score.

Judgments happen after a lawsuit. Should the creditor you owe sue you in order to collect the debt, losing the lawsuit will result in a judgment being filed against you in court. Because the credit bureaus regularly peruse new court records via a federal records database, it won’t be long before the judgment appears on your credit report. Fortunately, court judgments don’t remain in effect forever.

The Legal Statute of Limitations for Judgments

Each state has different guidelines regarding the statute of limitations for judgments. For example, a judgment may remain in effect for up to 20 years in Florida, while many other states only allow judgments to remain for a period of up to 10 years. 

Keep in mind as well that in order for a judgment to remain in effect, it must be renewed. Most states require creditors to renew their judgments a minimum of 30 days before they expire. Although a judgment may remain in effect for up to 20 years, sometimes longer, this is only true if the creditor takes the time to renew the judgment. If the creditor fails to renew during the required time frame the judgment will cease to be valid. 

Credit Report Judgments

The Fair Credit Reporting Act only sets a 7 year reporting period for judgments. Thus, it is possible for a judgment to still be valid after 7 years yet no longer appear on a consumer’s credit report. A judgment renewal by a creditor does not renew the reporting period for the judgment on your credit report.

A handful of states have statutes of limitations longer than 7 years. The statute of limitations only affects credit reporting when it comes to judgments. In these states, a judgment can remain until the statute of limitations expires or the standard 7 year reporting period, whichever is longer.

Considering that few creditors sue immediately when a debt becomes due, the odds of a judgment remaining on a consumer's credit report for longer than seven years are slim, even in states that permit the practice. 

You Can Contest a Judgment

If you contest a judgment by filing a Motion to Vacate Judgment and win your case, the judgment against you is immediately dropped. Give the court time to prepare a certified copy of the decision in the case. By mailing the court’s decision regarding your Motion to Vacate to the credit bureaus, you may successfully have the judgment removed from your credit report before the 7 year reporting period expires.

Depending on the circumstances surrounding the judgment and your state of residence, you may have a limited period of time after the judgment is levied to successfully contest it. 

Disclaimer: I am not an attorney and this is not to be taken as legal advice. See a licensed attorney in your state for guidance specific to your situation.


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