A money judgment obtained from the General District Court is enforceable for a period of ten (10) years and may be extended by Court Order for another ten (10) years. (VA Code 16.1-69.55.) Judgments obtained from the Circuit Court is generally enforceable for a period of twenty (20) years and may be extended by Court Order for another twenty (20) years. (VA Code 8.01-251.)
The State of Virginia permits Confession of Judgment. A debtor or his attorney-in-fact, acting under a Power of Attorney, may appear before the Clerk of the appropriate Court and sign a confession of judgment. The form of the confession of judgment must substantially conform to the format set forth in Virginia Code 8.01-436. When a judgment is confessed, the Clerk of the Court shall endorsed upon such confession, or attach thereto, his certificate in the format as prescribed in Virginia Code 8.01-437, and serve a certified copy of the Order upon the debtor or his attorney in fact within ten (10) days. A judgment by confession generally may be enforced in the same manner as a judgment issued by the Court. However, if the underlying obligation under the confession of judgment was for personal, family or household purposes, it may not be enforced until twenty-one (21) days after its entry to give the judgment debtor an opportunity to seek a court order to set it aside. (VA Code 8.01-433, 434.)
Every judgment becomes a lien on the judgment debtor's real property when it is recorded on the judgment lien docket of the clerk's office of the county or city where the land is situated. (VA Code 8.01-458.) A judgment creditor may execute the judgment by levying on the real and personal property of the judgment debtor, including the garnishment of wages. Generally, the amount of earnings which may be garnished may not exceed twenty-five percent (25%) of the judgment debtor's non-exempt disposable earning. (VA Code 34-29.) A garnishee-employer generally may charge and collect a fee of up to $10.00 from a judgment debtor for processing the garnishment summons. (VA Code 8.01-512.2.)
Any judgment, decree, or order of a court of the United States or of any other court is entitled to full faith and credit in the State of Virginia. (VA Code 8.01-465.1 et seq.) A judgment creditor may seek enforcement of a foreign judgment by filing an authenticated copy of the foreign state judgment, an affidavit setting forth the name and last known post office address of the judgment debtor and creditor in the appropriate court of Virginia, and payment of a prescribed fee. (Virginia Code 8.01-465.2, 8.01-465.3.) The Clerk of the Court, and the creditor, generally is required to send a notice of the filing of the foreign judgment to the judgment debtor. A foreign judgment has the same effect and is subject to the same procedures, defenses, and proceedings for reopening, vacating or staying as a judgment of any court in the State of Virginia. (VA Code 8.01-465.2.) However, a foreign judgment may not be enforced in the State of Virginia if it is more than ten (10) years old. (VA Code 8.01-252.)
In general, a debtor may claim exemption of his homestead and certain personal property from attachment and execution of a judgment, or in a bankruptcy proceeding. Virginia permits every householder exemption of real and personal property from creditor process arising out of a debt, an amount up to $5,000.00 in value, and an additional $500 in value for each dependent. (VA Code 34-4.) In addition, Virginia provides certain enumerated poor debtor's exemption. Some of these exemptions include the family Bible, wedding and engagement rings, family portraits and heirlooms not to exceed $5,000.00 in value, burial ground, wearing apparel, household furniture and furnishings, book, tools, and motor vehicle not to exceed $2,000 in value. (VA Code 34-26.) Court award or settlement proceeds from personal injury or wrongful death actions generally are also exempt. (VA Code 34-28.1.)
In a bankruptcy proceeding, a debtor, who is a resident of Virginia, is not permitted to elect the exemptions provided under the federal Bankruptcy Code even if the federal exemptions may be more beneficial in his situation. (VA Code 34-3.1.)
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If you think you have a problem that may require the services of a lawyer, call the Virginia Lawyer Referral Service. Your call will be answered by a referral specialist who will request your name, address, a daytime phone number, and a brief description of your problem. Based on this information, you will be provided with the name and telephone number of a lawyer in the city or county in Virginia requested who has indicated a particular interest in handling your type of problem. The lawyer will be licensed and a member in good standing with the Virginia State Bar. It will then be your responsibility to call the lawyer to schedule an appointment. If it appears that you do not need a lawyer, you will be directed to an agency that may be able to help. Any information that you provide will be strictly confidential.
If you are referred to a lawyer, you will be entitled to consult with him or her for up to one-half hour for a fee of $35. Beginning July 1, 2007, you should be prepared to prepay by VISA or MasterCard at the time of the referral. Mail-in pre-payment by money order also is accepted. The initial consultation may answer your questions and enable you to solve your problem. If your problem requires additional time and work, you will be responsible for any additional legal fees. The lawyer you consult will be glad to discuss his or her fees and the cost of services beyond the initial consultation. However, there is no obligation for either you or the lawyer to go beyond the first consultation.
Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Closed on state holidays.
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