Regarding judgments obtained by a creditor or lienholder, Texas has some rules you may not have ever heard about. The Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code requires the following:
Sec. 34.001. NO EXECUTION ON DORMANT JUDGMENT. (a) If a writ of execution is not issued within 10 years after the rendition of a judgment of a court of record or a justice court, the judgment is dormant and execution may not be issued on the judgment unless it is revived.
(b) If a writ of execution is issued within 10 years after rendition of a judgment but a second writ is not issued within 10 years after issuance of the first writ, the judgment becomes dormant. A second writ may be issued at any time within 10 years after issuance of the first writ.
(c) This section does not apply to a judgment for child support under the Family Code.
Therefore, the life of a Texas Judgment is 10 years. During this 10 year window a Judgment Creditor (JC) can RENEW a judgment and restart this 10 year window again. In order to renew, a JC can file a writ of execution.
A writ of execution is proper when:
- Should be delivered to an officer for enforcement
- Placed in the hands of an officer
- Must have intent to execute
- Issuance requires diligence, and there should not be sitting on a writ after it has been properly issued, or it risks being voidable.
- Issuance doesn’t require an expectation of recovery
- Attempted execution is enough to renew the time bar
Sec. 31.006. REVIVAL OF JUDGMENT. A dormant judgment may be revived by scire facias or by an action of debt brought not later than the second anniversary of the date that the judgment becomes dormant.
Therefore, if 10 years has passed since the rendition of a judgment, the judgment will become dormant. However, there is a two year period after it becomes dormant where the judgment can be revived.
This can be done by a Judgment Creditor filing a Writ of Scire Facias (WSF). A WSF is not a new action, but a continuation of the underlying case. As such, an order entered upon an application of writ does no more than revive an original judgment. It does not add or take away from the original.
A WSF should contain all of the allegations and recitals of previous proceedings necessary to show the plaintiff’s right, and that he is entitled to all the judgment or relief prayed for in the action. The plaintiff needs to establish a Prima Facie case by attaching with its writ the original judgment and issuance of writ of execution.
From there, the Judgment Debtor (JD) must be served, and the plaintiff must serve the defendant with citation and a copy of the WSF, and demonstrate that service through a return of service.
A JD is limited in their response. They are not allowed to attack the original judgment collaterally and can raise no defense that should have been asserted prior to the judgment. Thus, the JD can attack the judgment as being void if they can plead and show its nullity, but it is more likely that they will only be able to plead the applicable defenses of: 1. Payment; 2. Accord and satisfaction; 3. Discharge.
Generally, a WSF will be granted if the Plaintiff can show Prima Facie proof of the judgment, and garnishment may be available. Once revived, the judgment regains its 10 year life.
These laws help creditors collect old debts, and provide flexibility in follow-up on collection, even when a creditor may think time has barred further pursuit by a creditor.