A judgment affidavit or an affidavit of judgment is a document that contains statements that specify how one person owes a debt for a specific amount of money to another. Essentially, the judgment affidavit functions as a civil complaint. The person who files this document is a plaintiff and the person who must respond is the defendant. The plaintiff must sign the affidavit under oath before a notary public and file it with the court.
In addition to filing the judgment affidavit with the court, the plaintiff must serve the defendant. This means that the plaintiff must hire a sheriff, another court officer, or a private process server to deliver the affidavit to the defendant along with a summons. The summons notifies the defendant that he or she must file a response to the judgment affidavit within a specified period, usually 30 days. The summons also notifies the defendant that the court will rule in favor of the plaintiff if the defendant fails to respond. The process server will subsequently notify the court in writing that the documents were served upon the defendant.
If the plaintiff fails to ensure proper service, it will cause a delay in the proceedings. A court can also reverse or set aside its ruling if the plaintiff does not make proper service of the judgment affidavit. In some cases, a court may impose sanctions on a plaintiff if the plaintiff knowingly fails to make proper service. This makes it important for a plaintiff to ensure that a defendant is served with the documents as required by law.
A plaintiff is also required to attach any other documents to the judgment affidavit that proves that a debt is valid. The plaintiff does not need to appear in court unless the court requires an in-person hearing. This will usually occur when a defendant submits a response disputing the claims in the affidavit. The plaintiff will then need to appear in court, prove the amount claimed as a debt, and respond to any defenses raised by the defendant. The court will hear both sides and make a ruling on the case.
Each jurisdiction has specific local rules of procedures that will specify when a judgment affidavit may be used. The rules will also specify what information the plaintiff must provide as part of the affidavit. Some jurisdictions do not use a judgment affidavit. Instead, these jurisdictions generally require a plaintiff to file a traditional court complaint or a petition.