Tie Up Your Loose Ends: File a Satisfaction

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August 1, 2011

Many people who have gone through a divorce wind up with a final judgment that orders them to pay support or transfer property. After the support has been paid or the property has been transferred, there are frequently loose ends to tie up.

Take for instance the case of John Big, who owes $1,000 per month in spousal support to Jane Big. If John has paid his support but fails to file a Satisfaction of Judgment, his credit report and real property records will likely still show the outstanding debt. This outstanding debt could impede John’s ability to borrow money, finalize a business transaction, collect lottery winnings or sell property.

Both Full and Partial Satisfactions of Judgment can be useful tools for John. A Satisfaction of Judgment is a legal document signed by the judgment creditor (in this case, Jane) that will officially release John of his obligation and any corresponding liens. A Partial Satisfaction of Judgment should be filed each time he makes a large lump sum payment, or every two or three years if support is paid over a long period of time. Filing the Partial Satisfaction will cut off Jane’s right to challenge the amount John has paid.

While Satisfaction of Judgment forms and filing requirements are not overly complicated, it can be difficult to choose the proper format and determine where to file.  Additionally, Jane will have to sign these forms and some will require a notary. Also, if Jane does not agree on the amount of support paid, she can request an administrative hearing. An attorney could help John coordinate with Jane or her attorney, or provide John with the documents he needs to complete this process himself.

If you are in a situation similar to John’s, get an attorney involved as soon as possible. The process will require maintaining good records, collaboration, and a little patience, but satisfaction will be found in the resulting freedom.