We were recently retained for two cases where our clients had very similar issues regarding property liens due to judgments improperly entered against them. In the first case, the client’s deceased husband had a judgment entered against him by Asset Acceptance and a subsequent lien was placed on their property. Although the judgment was entered in 2009, our client only became aware of it when she was seeking to refinance her mortgage, and this judgment lien was standing in her way. In the second case, the client’s ex-husband had a judgment entered against him by Citibank where a lien was placed on their marital residence after their divorce. Our client had been given the house in the divorce, but the deed was never officially filed. Therefore, the later judgment placed a lien on that property. She was also seeking to refinance her mortgage.
We are often retained by clients who are seeking to obtain a mortgage and whose judgments appear and become a hindrance in obtaining the mortgage. However, with these two clients, someone else’s debt stood in their way.
In the first case, our client and her husband owned the property as tenants by the entirety, which relates to property held by a husband and wife. When he died in 2010, she became the sole owner of the property. Although the judgment was entered in 2009 (prior to his death), we argued that this was not her debt nor one related to the property, so the lien should be removed from the property allowing our client to proceed with the refinance. Forster and Garbus who were opposing counsel conceded and provided a release of lien for that judgment without any payment.
In the second case, our client and her ex-husband both owned the property at issue as their marital residence until their divorce in January 2010. Their stipulation of settlement of divorce transferred title to the property to our client only. Because the judgment was later entered and the lien placed in December 2010, we argued that the property was solely owned and possessed by our client at that time, and the judgment lien was erroneously placed upon the property. We contacted Mulloooly Jeffrey Rooney and Flynn, opposing counsel and were able to negotiate a release of the lien for $2,000 where the balance of the judgment was $21,537.46. We were able to obtain this result in a few weeks after being retained.