What is a judgment debtor?

The term "judgment debtor" is a legal term used to describe anyone who is ordered to pay money to another by a court's legal judgment. A judgment debtor can be a person who is ordered to pay child support for his children, a corporation that is ordered to pay restitution for its unsafe products, or a criminal who is ordered to repay the money that he has stolen. In any of these cases, that person who has had the court officially pronounce judgment against him for a specific or general monetary amount has become, by definition, the "judgment debtor" in the case.

Obligations of the Judgment Debtor

In many cases the judgment debtor will not have sufficient funds to make full repayment, and s/he may have to have his wages garnished or have property liens attached. These actions are taken in order to make sure that the judgment debtor can eventually pay the judgment in full. When the debtor's wages are garnished, for example, money is taken from his paycheck each time he is paid. The money is withdrawn by the employer and paid to the appropriate party before the judgment debtor ever sees the money, and the wage garnishment may continue until the judgment is paid to the plaintiff in full.

Whatever the case may be, the judgment debtor will stand as the fiscally responsible party until the court judgment is overturned or satisfied by being fully paid. The outstanding judgment will also generally show up on the credit report of the judgment debtor, both during the period of time when it is outstanding and for several years afterward. 

Getting Help as a Judgment Debtor

If you have a judgment against you, you should consult with a lawyer as soon as possible to find out what your obligations are and whether you have any options under the law for dealing with the judgment.