What is a Satisfaction of Judgment?

When someone owes child support, spousal support or a property settlement as part of an Oregon family law case, they have a “judgment” against them.  You can clear the judgment by having the recipient of the support or settlement sign a ‘Satisfaction of Judgment’ which gets filed with the court.  A Satisfaction of Judgment is basically an official receipt which says that you owed a certain amount, but that it has been paid, either partially or in full.

Why does this matter?

In you have a judgment against you in Oregon, a lien automatically attaches to any real property you own in the county in which the judgment is filed.  The Satisfaction serves to remove the lien once it’s been filed.  If you have real property in multiple counties, the judgment can be recorded with the county recorder for the applicable county to attached a lien to the real property there.

If you buy or sell real estate in the future (or engage in other major credit transactions), the escrow company needs to confirm that you have paid any amounts owed pursuant to a judgment.  If you have in fact paid the amounts owed, the Satisfaction can serve as proof so that your home sale/purchase is not delayed.

Lastly, a judgment may have a negative impact on your credit score (although due to changes in credit reporting in 2017 the impact of this was lessened for many people).

Does the other person have to sign it?

Pursuant to ORS 18.225, a judgment creditor (recipient of the payments) must sign and file a Satisfaction of Judgment once all payments are made.  Further, a judgment debtor (the person who owes the money) can require the judgment creditor to sign a partial Satisfaction of Judgment for all amounts paid so far if the judgment debtor has real property which is subject to a judgment lien.

What can I do if the other person won’t sign it?

ORS 18.235 sets forth a procedure for obtaining a Satisfaction of Judgment if someone won’t comply.

What are the requirements of a Satisfaction of Judgment?

In Oregon, the Satisfaction must be filed in the same case (i.e., using the same case number), must indicate whether it is a partial or full satisfaction, must be signed by the judgment creditor or their attorney, and it must be notarized.

Where do these get filed? 

Generally speaking, the Satisfaction gets filed in the County in which the judgment was originally filed, and any other county in which the judgment was recorded.

However, in certain situations, Satisfactions get filed directly with the Oregon Department of Justice.  You should consult with an attorney to determine where your Satisfaction should be filed.

The bottom line: This is a relatively easy process which often gets overlooked because people don’t realize the implications of a judgment having been entered against them.  If you are a judgment debtor, you should absolutely have the judgment creditor sign a Satisfaction of Judgment once all amounts owed are paid.  You may also have the option of having him or her sign  Partial Satisfaction depending on the circumstances.