The modern court system in the State of Texas provides many protections for judgment debtors. Navigating the post-judgment collection process can be overwhelming whether the judgment is from state court, the federal district court, or out-of-state.
After countless demand letters go ignored, judgment creditors often must return to even more litigation in hopes of getting paid. In this way, a creditor’s celebration after obtaining a judgment is often short-lived, as they soon realize the judgment is only a piece of paper and there is more work to be done.
Moreover, most of the property that people have – their home, their car, their furnishings – qualifies as exempt from enforcement of a judgment under the law. So, how do you collect on a civil judgment?
While the situation described above may seem daunting, judgment creditors in Texas should remember that they do have numerous options when it comes to how a judgment can be enforced.
One of these is a Writ of Execution in Texas.
What Is a Writ of Execution in Texas?
30 days after judgment, a judgment creditor may obtain a Writ of Execution from the clerk of the court to attempt to seize the judgment debtor’s non-exempt property to satisfy the judgment.
What we mean by exempt is a long list of exempt property in Texas that includes the “homestead,” which is a house and up to ten (10) acres of land in an urban area, or a house and up to one hundred (100) acres of land for a single person and two hundred (200) acres for a family in a rural area under Texas Property Code §41.002.
Personal property up to $50,000 for a single person and $100,000 for a family is also exempt as set forth in Texas Property Code §41.001. Types of property eligible for exemption include home furnishings, food, farming or ranching vehicles and implements, tools of a trade, apparel, certain jewelry, two firearms, athletic and sporting equipment, one motor vehicle for each licensed driver in the household, pets and certain farm animals. A full list of exempt property is available under Texas Property Code §42.002.
Property, which is non-exempt, and thus subject to a Writ of Execution, includes property like vacation homes, rental properties, boats, and excess personal property. These are the types of property a Writ of Execution will target.
The court-issued Writ of Execution allows execution of a judgment debt by law enforcement in Texas, such as constables or sheriff’s officers, to seize and then sell real and personal property belonging to the judgment debtor in order to help satisfy the judgment.
Writ of Attachment vs. Writ of Execution
The court-issued Writ of Execution under Texas law and the applicable Writ of Execution Texas statute happens after judgment has been entered. Another way of acquiring a debtor’s property to satisfy a judgment, called a Writ of Attachment, can happen both before and after a judgment occurs.
Under Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 61.001, a writ of attachment is available to a plaintiff or judgment creditor on several grounds: (i) if the defendant is justly indebted to the plaintiff; (ii) if the attachment is not sought for the purpose of inuring or harassing the defendant, (iii) if the plaintiff is likely to lose the debt if the writ is not issued, and (iv) further specific grounds listed in Rule 61.002.
Writs of Attachment in Texas are used in several types of situations both to secure property to satisfy a debt and to ensure a judgment debtor participates in the case against him or her. Any property seized as part of the attachment will be seized by a duly-authorized law enforcement officer and held by the court as a “surety.”
Information for Creditors
How to Get a Writ of Execution
As soon as 30 days after judgment, you may obtain a Writ of Execution to attempt to seize the debtor’s non-exempt property to satisfy your judgment. The request for a Writ of Execution is made to the clerk of the court that heard and determined your case, and there is a fee for making the request.
Filing a Writ of Execution
The Writ of Execution is a proactive approach to post-judgment enforcement. 30 days after obtaining a final judgment, a creditor can request a Writ of Execution from the clerk of the court. The creditor or the creditor’s attorney will fill out a Writ of Execution form available at any county courthouse.
An example from Harris County can be found here – https://www.hcdistrictclerk.com/Common/Forms/pdf/Request%20for%20Civil-Family%20Post%20Trial%20Writ.pdf.
The Writ of Execution is filed at the courthouse as part of the docket entry for your case and is a fully enforceable court order.
What Happens after a Writ of Execution Is Served? / How the Implementation of a Writ of Execution Works
After the Writ of Execution is served, the sheriff or constable has full legal authority to seize real and personal assets of the judgment debtor. This includes placing a notice of seizure on a physical premise or at the perimeter of land or removing funds from a bank account.
Often, the officer serving a Writ of Execution will bring unwanted exposure to the debtor, leading debtors to attempt post-judgment settlement efforts, which creditors have complete discretion to entertain. Depending on the circumstances, the Writ of Execution can be useful leverage for making sure a judgment debt is promptly satisfied.
How Long Is a Writ of Execution Good for?
According to Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 34.001, a Writ of Execution for a money judgment can be applied for within 10 years of the entry of a judgment and is good for just as long. Within the 10 year period, the writ can be renewed at any time for an additional 10 years.
Information for Debtors
How to Fight a Writ of Execution
The most effective way to stop a writ of execution is to reach out to the judgment creditor and ask it to stop implementation. The sheriff will often cease efforts if the parties are working in good faith to resolve the judgment.
Oftentimes, the creditor will be represented by an attorney, requiring a greater level of skill at negotiating in the twilight of judgment. This is where Houston judgment defense lawyer Seth Kretzer is particularly knowledgeable and well-versed.
Attorney Seth Kretzer Can Help You Navigate the Money Judgment Process
If you wish to know more about filing for or defending against a Writ of Execution in the State of Texas, contact Seth Kretzer online today to schedule a free consultation.
Mr. Kretzer is on your side and knows the best course of action to pursue your justice. Additionally, he has worked on cases involving writs, both for debtors and creditors. He truly understands your situation and will do everything in his power to help you!