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In small claims court in Houston, Texas I was awarded a judgement

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In small claims court in Houston, Texas I was awarded a judgement of $800 plus interest and court fees. It has been more than 4 months since the award and the defendent still has not paid me.   Two months after the award I wrote a letter to the defendent requesting immediate payment in full or in installments. To this date the defendent has not paid. What are my options to enforce payment? Can I file a lien against his home?
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  LawHelpNow replied 8 years ago.

Hello and thanks so much for choosing this forum to pose your important legal question. I will do my best to give you some honest and accurate guidance as I answer your question.

  1. I am a licensed Texas attorney, and I will be glad to try and answer your question. I hope that the following information will be helpful to you, but please just write back if you have any follow-up questions or need clarification on anything after reviewing the following information.
  2. I do not mean to sound discouraging, but I have seen research figures showing that somewhere in the neighborhood of 85%-90% of such judgments remain uncollected in Texas. This is due in large measure to the fact that Texas ranks extremely high among the legal protections afforded to debtors (probably second only to Florida).
  3. As to your specific situation, here are your options. Under Texas law, you cannot take his home (or garnish his wages). However, you can obtain an Abstract of Judgment any time after the 11th day from the date of Judgment. The Abstract may then be filed in the office of the County Clerk in any County where you may think the Judgment Debtor may own real property. This will serve to alert any prospective buyers to the fact that once the Judgment Debtor sells his home, you get paid your amount due out of the proceeds.
  4. Additionally, you may obtain a Writ of Execution any time after the 30th day from the date of Judgment. A Writ of Execution allows a Sheriff or Constable to try and seize certain non-exempt property from the Judgment Debtor. If property is seized, an auction will be held and the proceedings from the sale will satisfy your Judgment.
  5. Furthermore, a Writ of Garnishment is available 30 days after the date of Judgment. This is a new lawsuit and is a complicated procedure generally necessitating retaining legal counsel.

I hope that this information has been helpful to you. If we can be of any further assistance please free to use our service again. Best wishes for a successful outcome.

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The information provided is general in nature only and should not be construed as legal advice. By using this forum, you acknowledge that no attorney-client relationship has been created between you and Benjamin M. Burt, Jr., Esq. You should always consult with a lawyer in your state.

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
For the option described in 3. of your answer, do I have to give any notice to the owner myself or should the court do that after I obtain the abstract of judgement? In this case the judgement debtor does have his property up for sale. At the time of the sale of that property, who ensures that the judgement is paid to me?    Also, for the Writ of Execution, what types of property can be seized (I understand the home cannot be)?
Expert:  LawHelpNow replied 8 years ago.

Hello again and thanks for writing back. I will be glad to answer your additional questions (in the order presented).


  1. You not required to give any notice of the Abstract of Judgment, which can be renewed every 10 years for a nominal fee (by the way). This will serve as a cloud on the title of the Judgment Debtor's property until they fulfill they financial obligations to you.
  2. If a sale occurs down the road, clear title cannot be obtained until the Judgment Debtor obtains a Release of Lien from you. It would be up to them to contact you and pay up in order to get you to release them so they can complete the sale.
  3. For the Writ of Execution, the Constable can take the Judgment Debtor's "non-exempt" personal property and sell it to pay your judgment. In Texas, however, much of what the average person owns is "exempt." Exempt property includes most personal property, up to $30,000 in value for a single person and $60,000 for a married couple. Here is a complete list.

Finally, there is one device I did not mention in my initial answer, which is called a "turn-over order." This permits the Judge to order the Judgment Debtor to turn over non-exempt property to you to satisfy the judgment. For example, if you know the person you sued is receiving a large sum of money from a construction job he is just completing, you can use a turn-over order to have the court order him to pay some of that money to you. This is a rather complex procedure under Texas law and would require an attorney.


I hope this is of some more help. Take care and thanks again for using Just AnswerTM.


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