In essence, money judgments are final orders entered by courts that a defendant in a lawsuit owes a certain sum to the plaintiff. They represent a particular stage of the life of a debt, and might arise from all manner of debts. Consumers are most often faced with judgments when a credit card lender or utility company successfully sues to collect an amount owed, an auto lender obtains a judgment following repossession of car worth less than the money owed, or a mortgage lender obtains a judgment following a foreclosure that fails to pay off the loan. The latter two are known as "deficiency judgments" and on the occasions that they are obtained, often surprise the debtor who thought losing their house or car was the end of that debt.
A judgment lien covers all real estate owned by a debtor in a county where the judgment is of record. The lien also includes property purchased after the judgment was entered. The creditor may foreclose upon the property to seek payment of the judgment debt. In some cases, bankruptcy may be used to remove judgment liens from property.