An individual obligated on most debts could potentially suffer garnished wages, levied bank accounts, or a lien on their home or other real property. However, if the individual has no income or property for the creditor to pursue, the individual is sometimes referred to a being “judgment proof”.
So if I’m judgment proof I get off scot-free! Right?
Sort of. But not exactly.
The term “judgment proof” has no legal significance. It is a misnomer, of sorts. In Massachusetts, a judgment, rendered at a hearing, is a court’s determination regarding the validity of a debt claimed by a creditor. Executions on court judgments are generally valid and enforceable for twenty (20) years. In some cases, although a creditor may go to court and obtain a judgment against you, you may not be forced to pay on the debt if you can prove that you do not have the ability to pay and that you do not have any non-exempt property.
This is sometimes referred to as being “judgment proof”. Keep in mind that judgments are good for up to twenty years and so a new job or a new house or car could easily make an individual no longer judgement proof.