A satisfaction of judgment is a form filed with a court to indicate that a judgment has been satisfactorily resolved. Until this form is filed, the judgment is not cleared and it will create a negative entry on the debtor's credit report. Typically, the form is filed once a judgment has been paid in full, although it may be possible to work out alternate arrangements in special cases.
When a creditor takes someone to court and the court rules in favor of the creditor, it issues a judgment indicating that the debtor must pay the amount determined by the court. The judgment debtor has several options for paying. One method is to pay the court directly. Another option is to pay the creditor, or to make arrangements with the creditor for an installment plan if it is not possible to pay the amount due all at once.
Once the judgment has been paid, the judgment debtor is entitled to ask the judgment creditor to file a satisfaction of judgment. This form indicates that the judgment has been paid and it is witnessed by a notary public before being filed with a clerk of the court. The debtor can check to confirm that the document was filed and that the judgment has been recorded as satisfied in the court records.
Debtors should make sure that they keep documentation to show that they have paid a judgment. If a check is written, for example, the purpose of the check should be clearly written on the check and a copy should be made. This information can be used if a creditor attempts to claim that the judgment was not satisfied. It is also advisable to keep a copy of the judgment, to confirm that the amount of the payment corresponds with the amount ordered by the court.
Some judgment creditors will file a satisfaction of judgment automatically when the debtor has paid. Others may need a reminder. If a creditor refuses to file, the debtor can consult a lawyer for assistance with getting the creditor to file the document. It is very important to make sure that a satisfaction of judgment has been filed and recorded, as an outstanding judgment on someone's record can interfere with the ability to obtain credit and with background checks. The court should be able to provide information about how long it takes to process the satisfaction of judgment and update their records.