Below is an overview of judgments in MN District Court. Read through our Definitions tab for commonly used words and our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for more information about judgments and the collection process.

A judgment is a decision of the court that orders a person to do something, which is typically paying money to another person. Common examples of money judgments include Orders for Judgment from Conciliation Court and Orders for Restitution from criminal cases.

Judgments are not always about money. They can also order a person to do something specific (for example, return property or follow a contract), or order a person to stop doing something.

Docketing or Docketed

Putting the judgment on an official list, which then creates a lien against certain real estate owned by the judgment debtor in that county. This process is sometimes called “transcribing the judgment.” Docketing the judgment allows the judgment creditor to request a Writ of Execution and Financial Disclosure. The judgment creditor can request to transcribe a judgment from Conciliation Court to District Court in the same county, and from District Court in one county to District Court in another county.

Entry of Judgment

When the Court Administrator put a judgment on the official record. The date of entry of judgment is when the timeline for appeals starts and is also the date used to calculate when a judgment expires.

Foreign Judgment

A judgment that is awarded in a different state or jurisdiction. This includes the US Federal Court, and possibly other countries.

Garnishment

A method of collecting money from the judgment debtor through a Garnishment Summons. The words “garnishment” and “levy” are often used in place of one another, but they are two different collection processes with different laws. Garnishment can often be more complicated than a levy. For more information about the garnishment process, see Minn. Stat. ch. 571.

Judgment Creditor

The party who is owed money or property.

Judgment Debtor

The party who owes money or property.

Levy or Execution Levy

A method of collecting money from the judgment debtor through a Writ of Execution (see Writ of Execution definition below). A final judgment must be awarded by the court before a judgment creditor can levy funds from the judgment debtor. 

Lien

A claim or legal right against someone else’s assets or property, such as real estate, that are used as collateral to satisfy a debt.

Order for Judgment

A judge’s decision or order, which may order one party to pay money or return property to another party.

Writ of Execution

A document from the court that allows the sheriff’s office to collect the judgment debtor’s personal property, including money from wages or bank accounts.

I have a judgment against me. Who do I pay the money to?

Your judgment should be paid to the judgment creditor. This is the person who is owed the money. 
If you cannot find the judgment creditor to pay your judgment, you can file an affidavit explaining the attempts you have made to find the judgment creditor or someone else with authority to accept payment for the judgment creditor. You can then pay the amount due on the judgment to court administration and they can mark the judgment as satisfied. See Minn. Stat. § 548.17. The MN Judicial Branch has not published a specific affidavit for this purpose. Contact your local court to ask if they have a form you can use, or talk to a lawyer for help with creating one.

What does docketing a judgment do?

Docketing a judgment allows a judgment creditor to take steps to enforce and collect the judgment, including:
  • getting a lien against certain real estate owned by the judgment debtor;
  • requesting Writs of Execution to levy the judgment debtor’s property; and/or
  • requesting Orders for Disclosure so you can get information about the judgment debtor’s employer and assets.
See the Collecting a Judgment tab for more information.

How do I tell the court I have paid the judgment?

If you are the judgment debtor and have paid the judgment in full (satisfied the judgment), you can contact the judgment creditor about having them sign a Satisfaction of Judgment. Once the form has been signed, the judgment creditor can file it directly or give it to you for filing. If you cannot reach the judgment creditor, or if the judgment creditor refuses to complete a Satisfaction of Judgment, you can file a Motion and Affidavit Requesting Satisfaction.

If you are the judgment creditor, you can file a Satisfaction of Judgment to let the court know the judgment has been paid. If the judgment debtor only made a partial payment, you will fill out the section called “Partial Satisfaction.” If the judgment debtor has paid the judgment in full, you can fill out the section called “Full Satisfaction.” You should file the Satisfaction of Judgment within 10 days of payment, or 30 days if the judgment was paid in uncertified funds. There will be a small fee to file a Partial or Full Satisfaction of Judgment.

How do I get a lien against the judgment debtor’s real estate?

To get a lien against the judgment debtor’s real estate, you must first find out whether it is Abstract or Torrens property (two different kinds of property titles). Contact the Recorder and Registrar of Titles Office in the county where the real estate is located to find out whether the property is Abstract or Torrens.

You can only get a lien if the judgment is docketed in the county where the real estate is located. The steps to get a lien are:

1. Docket the judgment in the county where you were awarded the judgment. (See the Collecting a Judgment tab, step 1).

If the judgment is in the same county as the judgment debtor’s real estate, skip to step 3 below.

If the judgment is in a different county than the judgment debtor’s real estate, go to step 2 below.

2. If the judgment is in a different county than the judgment debtor’s real estate, you will also need to docket the judgment in the county where the debtor’s real estate is located.  To do this: 3. If the property is:
  • Abstract property: You do not need to do anything else. Docketing your judgment in the county where the real estate is located automatically creates a lien against the real estate.
  • Torrens property:
    • Get a certified copy of your docketed judgment. There will be a fee for the certified copy.
    • File the certified copy of your docketed judgment with the County Recorder and Registrar of Titles Office. There will be a fee. Reach out to the County Recorder and Registrar of Titles Office for more information.

How do I docket a foreign judgment?

For detailed instructions and forms, see the packet for Docketing a Foreign Judgment.

In order to docket a foreign judgment, you will need:
  1. A certified copy of your judgment. Some courts will give an authenticated or exemplified copy of your judgment, which is also accepted.
  2. An Affidavit of Identification of Judgment Creditor for each judgment creditor.
  3. An Affidavit of Identification of Judgment Debtor for each judgment debtor.
File the documents with court administration. A foreign judgment is typically filed in the county where:
  • the judgment debtor’s real estate is located;
  • the judgment debtor’s bank is located; and/or
  • the judgment debtor’s employer is located.
The filing fee for docketing a foreign judgment depends on the amount of your judgment and the county you are filing in.

How long does a judgment last?

A judgment is good for 10 years from the date of entry of judgment. You can docket and collect your judgment at any time during the 10-year period.

Is there any way to renew a judgment that is about to expire?

A judgment can be renewed by the judgment creditor if it is not satisfied (paid) within 10 years from when it was entered. To enforce a judgment that was not paid during the 10 year timeframe, the judgment creditor has to renew the judgment by starting a new lawsuit before the end of the 10 year period, based on a claim for failure to pay a judgment. See Minn. Stat. § 541.04. A new lawsuit can be started using the Starting a Civil Case in District Court packet. See the Civil Actions Help Topic for more information on this process.

Is interest automatically added to my judgment?

Yes. Interest rates are set by law and depend on the amount of your judgment as well as the type of judgment. The interest rate for your judgment could be different if you and the other party agreed to a different rate.

Court administration can calculate the current amount of your judgment, including interest. See Minn. Stat. § 549.09 for more information.

My judgment was discharged through bankruptcy. Why do I still have a judgment?

Bankruptcy is a federal law issue and the resulting order is a federal court record. Getting a discharge in federal bankruptcy court does not automatically cause the state court record (your judgment) to be discharged. You need to apply to have your state court judgment discharged. See the Bankruptcy Help Topic for more information.

How do I get a judgment off my credit report?

If the judgment has been satisfied or has expired, you can reach out to the credit bureaus directly and ask them to update their records to reflect the current status of the judgment. They may ask you to send them a certified copy of your judgment. If you believe a judgment is improperly reported, you may have to file a dispute with the credit bureau.

Step 1: Docket the judgment

After you win a judgment, you must then have the judgment docketed. This process is sometimes called “transcribing the judgment.” You can docket a judgment by filing an Affidavit of Identification of Judgment Debtor form with court administration in the county where you were awarded the judgment. There may be a fee to docket the judgment, depending on the case type.

The court also publishes a form called an Affidavit of Identification of Judgment Creditor. This form is required when you need to docket a foreign judgment in Minnesota (one that was awarded in another state). See the How do I docket a foreign judgment? FAQ for more information.

NOTE: The process for docketing a judgment for child support or spousal maintenance is different than the process explained in this section. Review the Child Support Help Topic for more information on how to enter and docket a child support judgment. Review the Entry and Docketing Spousal Maintenance Judgments forms packet for more information on how to enter and docket a spousal maintenance judgment, including the forms you would need to file.

If you DO NOT know where the judgment debtor works or banks, or what kind of assets the judgment debtor has, go to Step 2.

If you DO know where the judgment debtor works or banks or where to find the judgment debtor’s assets and you want to begin the collection process, go to Step 4.

Step 2: Request an Order for Disclosure

If you need information about where the judgment debtor works and/or has a bank account, you can file a Request for Order for Disclosure with court administration. There will be a small fee for each Request for Order for Disclosure.

NOTE: If your case started in Conciliation Court, you can file a Request for Order for Disclosure at any point after the judgment is docketed. If your case started in District Court, the judgment must be docketed for more than thirty (30) days before you can file a Request for Order for Disclosure.

When you file the Request for Order for Disclosure, court administration will send the judgment debtor an Order for Disclosure and a Financial Disclosure form. They will also send you a copy of the Order for Disclosure for your records. The Order for Disclosure directs the judgment debtor to fill out and mail the completed Financial Disclosure form back to you. The judgment debtor must return the completed Financial Disclosure form to you within sixteen (16) days of the date the Order for Disclosure was sent to the judgment debtor.

If the judgment debtor does not return the completed Financial Disclosure to you, or if the Financial Disclosure is incomplete, go to Step 3.

If the judgment debtor returns the Financial Disclosure and you:
  • want to start the collection process, go to Step 4.
  • do not agree with the information on the completed Financial Disclosure form, you may file a motion using the Civil Motion packet to bring the issue in front of a judge for a hearing.

Step 3: Request an Order to Show Cause

If the judgment debtor does not return the Financial Disclosure form to you within sixteen (16) days of the date it was mailed by court administration, you can file an Affidavit in Support of Order to Show Cause.  You can also file the Affidavit in Support of Order to Show Cause if you received the Financial Disclosure, but the judgment debtor did not complete it. There will be a small fee to file the Affidavit in Support of Order to Show Cause.

If the judge decides that a hearing is needed, they will issue an Order to Show Cause requiring the judgment debtor to appear for a hearing and explain why they did not return the completed Financial Disclosure form to you. You will also likely need to attend the hearing. If the judgment debtor does not appear for the hearing, the judge may issue a bench warrant.

Step 4: Send the judgment debtor notice that you plan to start collecting

  • If you are trying to collect from the judgment debtor’s earnings (wages):
You must first give written notice to the judgment debtor of your intent to collect from their earnings. To give written notice, you need to complete the Execution Exemption Notice and Notice of Intent to Levy on Earnings. Before a Writ of Execution can be served by the sheriff’s office (see step 5 below), the judgment debtor must be given at least 10-days notice, if the form is hand-delivered, or 13-days notice, if mailed.

NOTE: You cannot hand-deliver or mail the Execution Exemption Notice and Notice of Intent to Levy on Earnings to the judgment debtor yourself; you must have someone else over the age of 18 do it for you.

You can find a copy of this notice form in the Execution Levy on Earnings forms packet. The packet includes instructions, the notice form, and other paperwork you will need to give to the sheriff’s office later in the process.
 
  • If you are trying to collect from the debtor’s bank account(s):
You do not need to send the judgment debtor any advance notice if you are trying to collect from their bank account(s) or other financial institution. However, when the sheriff’s office serves the bank or other financial institution, they will need to serve additional paperwork including a notice form that the bank will send to the judgment debtor telling them their funds have been frozen. You can find the forms you need to give to the sheriff’s office in the Execution Levy on Financial Institution forms packet, as well as instructions detailing the steps of this process.

Step 5: Request a Writ of Execution from court administration

You can ask court administration for a Writ of Execution by writing a letter with your court file number and the county where the judgment debtor’s bank or employer is located. Be sure to explain that you want a Writ of Execution. File this with court administration and pay the fee.

Be aware that a Writ of Execution expires after 180 days or when the judgment expires, whichever is sooner. The Writ of Execution will list the date it expires.

Step 6: Take the paperwork to the sheriff’s office

When you get a Writ of Execution from court administration, you will take it to the sheriff's office in the county where the Writ it is directed to. This is either the county where the judgment debtor works or the county where the debtor banks. 

You will also need to give the sheriff’s office a copy of the paperwork you completed in Step 4, along with a check for $15 made payable to either the judmgent debtor’s bank (if collecting from the judgment debtor’s bank acount(s)) or employer (if collecting from the judgment debtor’s wages). This is in addition to the fee the sheriff’s office will charge for executing the Writ.

Step 7: File an Affidavit of Increased Costs (Optional)

When following the steps listed above, you may have to pay certain fees to the court and the sheriff’s office. It is possible to have the cost of these fees added to the amount of your judgment by filling out and filing an Affidavit of Increased Costs. Some counties may require proof of your expenses, so it is a good idea to keep your receipts. You can file more than one Affidavit of Increased Costs if needed.

NOTE: Some fees you pay to the sheriff’s office or court are automatically added to your judgment by court administration. Check with court administration to see if the costs you want to add have already been added.
The Minnesota Judicial Branch publishes some judgment-related forms, but not every possible form. Forms may also be available at a law library, from a legal forms publisher, or from an attorney. If you do not know what forms to use for your situation, contact a Self-Help Center for information about court forms, or talk to a lawyer to get advice.

Judgment Enforcement Forms
Forms to enforce a money judgment, including docketing the judgment and collecting the judgment.

Satisfaction of Judgment Forms
Forms for a creditor to tell the court that a judgment has been satisfied or for a debtor to ask the court to mark a judgment as satisfied.

Spousal Maintenance Judgment (Statewide)
Forms to enter and docket spousal maintenance that was awarded but remains unpaid. 

Spousal Maintenance Judgment (4th District – Hennepin County District Court)

Child Support Judgment
Forms to enter and docket unpaid, court-ordered child support. Review the Child Support Help Topic for more information on child support judgments.

Application for Discharge of Judgment
Form to request a District Court judgment be discharged according to a bankruptcy order.
If you are representing yourself in court, you are responsible for following the same laws and rules as an attorney. See Rights and Duties of Self-Represented Parties
 

Laws & Rules on Money Judgments

The following is a list of some of the laws and rules that deal with money judgments in Minnesota. See also Laws, Rules & Legal Research. You can get more help with your legal research at a Law Library, which is open to the public. Talk with a lawyer to get advice on how the laws and rules may affect your case.