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How Can I Get A Judgment Lien Off Of My House?

Serving Families Throughout Mobile
To avoid a judgment lien under Chapter 13 of the United States Bankruptcy Code, specifically section 522(f), you need to follow certain steps and meet specific criteria. Here's a general guide on how to proceed:

Understand the Judgment Lien: A judgment lien is created when a creditor obtains a court judgment against you and records that judgment with the appropriate government office. It gives the creditor the right to collect the debt by attaching a lien to your property.

Eligibility: To avoid a judgment lien under Section 522(f), you must meet certain eligibility requirements. These requirements vary depending on the specific circumstances of your case. Generally, you must show that the lien impairs your exemption rights in the property.

Consult with an Attorney: Bankruptcy law can be complex, and it's highly recommended to consult with a qualified bankruptcy attorney who can guide you through the process and ensure that you meet all the necessary requirements.

File for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy: You need to file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition with the bankruptcy court. This initiates the bankruptcy process and provides automatic stay protection, which temporarily stops creditors from taking collection actions against you.

Motion to Avoid Lien: After filing for bankruptcy, you or your attorney must file a motion with the bankruptcy court to avoid the judgment lien under Section 522(f). The motion should clearly state the legal basis for avoiding the lien and provide supporting evidence.   

The Court in Alabama will consider the Debtor as owning the full value of the home for purposes of determining the value of the property.   The judgment lien can only be avoided if the lien impairs the Debtor's homestead exemption. This can be a complicated calculation, and it may require a hearing and presentation of evidence such as an appraisal of the property, mortgage statement(s) showing loan balance(s) on the petition filing date,  a copy of the Certificate of Judgment showing the judgment amount and County  and state of filing ( must be filed in the County where the real estate is located), and a calculation showing that the lien impairs the Debtor's exemption.  

If there is even $1.00 of equity left after subtracting the mortgage, liens and debtor's homestead exemption, the lien remains attached to the property, even if the debt is discharged at the end of the ch 13 plan. 

If the court determines that there is no non-exempt equity over and above the above calculation, then the Court can issue an Order stating tha the lien shall be avoided ( or removed/cancelled) upon filing of the ch 13 Discharge Order.  

The Order can ( and should) be filed with the Recorder for the county where the real estate is located to clear the title record.  

Notice to Creditor: The motion to avoid the lien must also include proper notice to the creditor holding the judgment lien. This notice informs the creditor about the bankruptcy filing and the intention to avoid their lien.

Hearing and Court Approval: The court will schedule a hearing to consider the motion. At the hearing, you or your attorney will present arguments and evidence supporting the motion to avoid the lien. If the court approves the motion, it will enter an order avoiding the lien.

Compliance with the Bankruptcy Plan: To successfully complete Chapter 13 bankruptcy and obtain a discharge of your debts, you must comply with the terms of your court-approved repayment plan. This usually involves making regular payments to a bankruptcy trustee who then distributes the funds to your creditors.

It's crucial to consult with a bankruptcy attorney who can provide personalized advice based on your specific situation and jurisdiction. They will guide you through the legal process, help you understand your rights, and ensure that you comply with all the necessary requirements to avoid a judgment lien.
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