Filing Judgment Liens in Michigan: The Basics


Filing judgment liens is one of the major debt collection tools judgment creditors in Michigan have at their disposal. A judgment lien establishes a legal and financial interest in a piece of real property owned by the debtor. The lien prevents the debtor from selling the property without using the proceeds to satisfy their debt.

As in most states, Michigan regulates the process of filing judgment liens. It is not a complicated process for someone with experience. If you are not familiar with the system, it’s best to utilize an experienced attorney or judgment collection agency.

Liens Are Filed with the Court

Judgment liens against a debtor’s real property are filed with the court that issued the original judgment, at least in Michigan. Once filed, the lien is also recorded in the county’s land title records. This usually means the county’s register of deeds.

Michigan law requires specific information be included on the judgment lien:

  • The original case’s caption and docket number
  • The judgment’s entry and expiration dates
  • The judgment creditor’s name and address
  • The name and address of the creditor’s attorney
  • Either the judgment debtor’s TIN or SSN (last four digits)
  • The debtor’s name and address
  • The judgment’s current outstanding balance
  • The expiration date of the judgment lien
  • The signature of the judgment creditor or representing attorney.

This seems like a lot of information, but it is really not. The important thing is to make sure it’s all there and accurate. Incomplete and inaccurate information is one of the leading causes of delays in court filings. When you are trying to get paid from an uncooperative debtor, the last thing you need are court delays.

Multiple Copies Are Issued

Filing judgment liens leads to multiple copies being made. The creditor files an additional form to have the original lien returned so that it can be registered with the county. In addition to the original, the clerk should also offer two copies of the lien. One is for the creditor’s records while the other is served on the debtor. The original is returned to the judgment creditor after it is registered in the county register of deeds.

Judgment Liens Can Expire

Just as with judgments themselves, judgment liens in Michigan are time limited. They expire along with the judgment itself. A lien will expire within five years even if the original judgment has several years left on it. To prevent expiration, the judgment creditor needs to record it again with the register of deeds.

When a judgment lien does its job, the creditor gets paid from any proceeds resulting from the sale of the attached property. The creditor is expected to issue a letter verifying that the debt has been satisfied. Any funds remaining after debt satisfaction go back to the debtor or are distributed among additional lien holders.

There Is A Lot to It

Needless to say there is a lot to collecting unpaid judgments in Michigan. There are documents to file with the court. There are deadlines to meet. There are certain things that judgment creditors can and cannot do. It can make for a very confusing situation for any judgment creditor who has no experience in debt collection.

If you have outstanding judgments in Michigan, you can continue attempting to collect them on your own or turn them over to a judgment collection agency. Here at Judgment Collectors, we specialize in this unique type of debt collection. We are standing by to take a look at your case to see what we can do. If we can help, we will get started on it right away.