WVC 38 -
CHAPTER 38. LIENS.
WVC 38 - 3 -
ARTICLE 3. JUDGMENT LIENS.
WVC 38 - 3 - 1
§38-3-1. Effect of decrees and orders; enforcement.
A decree for land or specific personal property and a decree
or order requiring the payment of money shall have the effect of
a judgment for such land, property or money, and be embraced by
the word "judgment" where used in this or in articles four, five,
and six of this chapter. But a decree or order in chancery,
other than for the payment of money, or a decree or order for
alimony or maintenance, may be enforced as it might have been if
this and the following section had not been enacted.
WVC 38 - 3 - 2
§38-3-2. Decree or order for payment of money; enforcement by
The persons entitled to the benefit of any decree or order
requiring the payment of money shall be deemed judgment
creditors, although the money may be required to be paid into a
court or a bank or other place of deposit. In such case an
execution on the decree or order shall make such recital thereof,
and of the parties to it, as may be necessary to designate the
case; and if a time be specified in the decree or order within
which the payment is to be made, the execution shall not issue
until the expiration of that time.
WVC 38 - 3 - 3
§38-3-3. Meaning of word "judgment."
In the following two sections the word "judgment" shall
include any undertaking, bond or recognizance which has the force
of a judgment.
WVC 38 - 3 - 4
§38-3-4. Abstracts of judgments; damages or penalty for failure
of clerk or justice to deliver.
The clerk of every court of this state shall, without delay,
make out and deliver a duly certified abstract of every judgment
rendered by such court, and every justice of the peace shall,
without delay, make out and deliver a duly certified abstract of
every judgment rendered by him or by any other justice, the
docket of which judgment is in his possession and under his
control, to any person interested therein who may demand the
same, and pay or tender the fee therefor, in which abstract shall
be stated: (a) The names in full of the plaintiff or plaintiffs,
and the defendant or defendants, as they appear in the papers and
proceedings in the cause, and if the defendants are sued as
partners, the individual names of such defendants, and also the
partnership name shall be stated; (b) the amount of the judgment
and the amount of the costs, stating each separately; (c) the
value of the specific property (if any) recovered by it, and the
damages, if any, for its detention; (d) the date of the judgment
and the court in which, or the justice by whom, the judgment was
rendered. Any clerk or justice who shall fail to deliver such
abstract as herein required shall, together with the sureties in
his official bond, be liable to the person injured by such
failure for the amount of his injury, or such injured person may,
at his option, recover fifty dollars from such clerk or justice.
WVC 38 - 3 - 5
§38-3-5. Docketing abstracts of judgments; indexing; damages or
penalty for failure of clerk to perform duties.
The clerk of every county court shall keep in his office, in
a well-bound book, a judgment docket, in which he shall docket
without delay any judgment rendered by any justice of the peace
or court of this state or by any court of the United States
within this state, upon the delivery to him of an authenticated
abstract thereof for that purpose, and the payment or tender of
his fee therefor. In such docket there shall be stated, in
separate columns: (a) The names in full of the plaintiff or
plaintiffs, and the defendant or defendants, as they are stated
in such abstract, and if it appear by such abstract that the
defendants were sued as partners, their partnership name as well
as their individual names shall be stated; (b) the amount of the
judgment and of the costs, stating each separately; (c) the value
of any specific property recovered by the judgment, and the
damages (if any) for its detention; (d) the date of the judgment;
(e) the court in which or the justice by whom it was rendered;
(f) the date of docketing the judgment; (g) there shall also be a
column for the notation of executions, if any shall be issued,
upon the judgment. Every judgment, docketed by the clerk of the
county court as aforesaid, shall at the same time be indexed by
him in an index to be kept in or annexed to such judgment docket,
such index showing the full name of the defendant, and, if more
than one defendant, the full name of each, as they appear in such
abstract. If the defendants are sued as partners, it shall also
be indexed in the partnership name appearing in such abstract. Any clerk of a county court failing to perform any duty required
of him by this section, or by section eight of this article,
shall, together with the sureties in his official bond, be liable
to the person injured by such failure for the amount of his
injury, or such injured person may, at his option, recover fifty
dollars from such clerk.
WVC 38 - 3 - 6
§38-3-6. Lien of judgment on real estate.
Every judgment for money rendered in this state, other than
by confession in vacation, shall be a lien on all the real estate
of or to which the defendant in such judgment is or becomes
possessed or entitled, at or after the date of such judgment, or
if it was rendered in court, at or after the commencement of the
term at which it was so rendered, if the cause was in such
condition that a judgment might have been rendered on the first
day of the term; but if from the nature of the case judgment
could not have been rendered at the commencement of the term,
such judgment shall be a lien only on or after the date on which
such judgment or decree could have been rendered and not from the
commencement of the term; but this section shall not prevent the
lien of a judgment or decree from relating back to the first day
of the term merely because the case shall be set for trial or
hearing on a later day of the term, if such case was matured and
ready for hearing at the commencement of the term, not merely
because an office judgment in a case matured and docketed at the
commencement of the term does not become final until a later day
of the term. A judgment by confession in vacation shall also be
a lien upon such real estate, but only from the time of day at
which such judgment is confessed. Such lien shall continue so
long as such judgment remains valid and enforceable, and has not
been released or otherwise discharged.
WVC 38 - 3 - 7
§38-3-7. Judgment lien not good as against bona fide purchasers
unless docketed, etc.; effect of issuing and filing
No judgment shall be a lien as against a purchaser of real
estate for valuable consideration without notice, unless it be
docketed according to the fifth section of this article, in the
county wherein such real estate is, before a deed therefor to
such purchaser is delivered for record to the clerk of the county
court of such county; nor shall such judgment, though it be
docketed as aforesaid, be a lien, after ten years from its date
as against such a purchaser who purchases after such ten years,
unless within such ten years an execution shall have issued on
such judgment and such execution or a copy thereof be filed in
the office of such clerk, or, unless such purchaser have actual
notice of the fact that such execution was issued, though it was
not so filed; nor shall such judgment, though it be docketed as
aforesaid, and though one or more executions shall have issued
thereon and shall have been filed as aforesaid, be a lien, after
ten years from the date of the last execution so filed, as
against such a purchaser who purchases after such ten years,
unless such purchaser have notice of the issuing of an execution
within ten years preceding the date of such purchase.
WVC 38 - 3 - 8
§38-3-8. Notation of executions on judgment lien docket.
It shall be the duty of the clerk of the county court, upon
the filing of the execution, or a copy thereof, as provided in
the preceding section or upon the filing of any execution issued
by any court of the United States within this state, to note on
the judgment lien docket, in the column provided for such
notation, or on the margin of the record of such judgment, the
date on which such execution issued and the date of the filing
WVC 38 - 3 - 9
§38-3-9. Enforcement of judgment lien by suit.
The lien of a judgment may be enforced in a court of equity
after an execution or fieri facias thereon has been duly returned
to the office of the court or to the justice from which it issued
showing by the return thereon that no property could be found
from which such execution could be made: Provided,
lien may be enforced in equity without such return when an
execution or fieri facias has not issued within two years from
the date of the judgment. If it appear to such court that the
rents and profits of the real estate subject to the lien will not
satisfy the judgment in five years, the court may decree such
real estate, or any part thereof, to be sold and the proceeds
applied to the discharge of the judgment.
WVC 38 - 3 - 10
§38-3-10. Same -- Parties.
In every suit in equity to enforce a judgment, all persons
having liens on the real estate sought to be subjected, by
judgment or otherwise, shall be made parties plaintiff or
defendant, or if the number of such persons exceed ten, the suit
may be brought by any one or more of them, for the benefit of
himself and such other lienholders as will come in and contribute
to the expenses of the suit. And whether the suit be so brought
or not, every such lienholder, whether he be named as a party to
the suit or not, or whether he be served with process therein or
not, may present, prove and have allowed any claim he may have
against the judgment debtor, which is a lien on such real estate,
or any part thereof, and from and after the time he presents any
such claim he shall be deemed a party plaintiff in such suit.
WVC 38 - 3 - 11
§38-3-11. Same -- Publication of notice to lienholders.
No decree for the distribution of the proceeds of real
estate in a suit in equity to enforce a judgment shall be made
until a notice to all persons holding liens on the real estate of
the judgment debtor be published, under a decree of the court, as
hereinafter provided. Such notice shall be sufficient if it be
in form or effect as follows:
To all persons holding liens by judgment or otherwise, on
the real estate, or any part thereof, of A ............. B
In pursuance of a decree of the circuit court of ...........
county, made in a cause therein pending, to subject the real
estate of the said A ............... B ............... to the
satisfaction of the liens thereon, you are hereby required to
present all claims held by you and each of you against the said A
.............. B ............, which are liens on his real
estate, or any part of it, for adjudication to me, at my office
in the county (or city, town or village, as the case may be) of
............. on or before the ....... day of ..............
Given under my hand, this ........ day of .............
C................. D .................., Commissioner.
Such notice shall be published as a Class II legal
advertisement in compliance with the provisions of article three,
chapter fifty-nine of this code, and the publication area for
such publication shall be the county. Publishing of such notice
shall be equivalent to the personal service thereof on all
persons holding liens, on any such real estate, unless the court shall, in the decree directing such notice to be so published,
WVC 38 - 3 - 12
§38-3-12. Same -- Duties of commissioner.
The commissioner to whom the case is referred by such decree
shall, as soon as possible after such notice is published as
aforesaid, or served in such manner as the court may order,
proceed to ascertain and report all the liens, on the real estate
or any part thereof of the judgment debtor, the holders of such
liens, the amount due to each, and the priorities thereof, and
such other matters and things as the court by its decree may
direct, and the same proceeding shall be had on such report as in
other suits in chancery.
WVC 38 - 3 - 13
§38-3-13. Same -- Confirmation of report; decree of rental or
sale and distribution.
When the report of any such commissioner is confirmed, if
the claims therein reported (if any) be not paid, the court shall
decree that so much of the real estate of the judgment debtor as
may be necessary, and which is subject to such lien or liens,
shall be rented or sold, and the proceeds thereof distributed
among the several lienholders who have appeared and proved their
liens and claims, according to their several priorities, if any;
which decree shall be a bar to the claim of any lienholder who
has not appeared and presented his claim to such commissioner, as
required by such notice, except that if a surplus remain after
the payment of the claims so presented and proved and confirmed
by the court, the lienholder so failing to appear may share in
such surplus, upon proving his claim at any time before a final
decree in the case, in such manner as the court shall direct. But
if he fail to present his claim before such final decree, he
shall be forever barred of all right to participate in the
proceeds of such real estate so far as the other creditors of
such judgment debtor, holding liens on such real estate, who have
not so failed, are concerned.
WVC 38 - 3 - 14
§38-3-14. Same -- Judgment against debtor pending suit.
If, pending any such suit, a judgment at law be recovered by
any person against such judgment debtor, such person may present
his claim to the commissioner and have it adjudicated and allowed
in the same manner and to the same extent as if the judgment had
been obtained before the institution of such suit. And he may
present such claim to the court after the report is made, and
before the entering of a decree distributing the proceeds of the
sale of such real estate, and have the same adjudicated and
passed upon by the court, and if found to be correct and a lien
upon such real estate, the court shall allow and confirm the
same, and provide for the payment thereof in the decree of sale
WVC 38 - 3 - 15
§38-3-15. Same -- Other proceedings commenced pending suit.
If, after the commencement of suit to enforce a judgment
lien, any lienholder commence any other suit or proceeding in or
out of court to enforce a lien claimed by him on the real estate,
or any part thereof, of the judgment debtor, upon which a lien is
sought to be enforced by such suit, the court, or the judge
thereof in vacation, may enjoin him from so doing and require him
to come in and assert his lien in such suit, or make such order
or decree in relation thereto as to such court or judge may seem
right and proper to protect the interest of all parties having
WVC 38 - 3 - 16
§38-3-16. Order of liability of real estate.
Where the real estate liable to the lien of a judgment is
more than sufficient to satisfy the same, and it, or any part of
it, has been aliened, as between the alienees, that which was
aliened last shall, in equity, be first liable, and so on with
other successive alienations until the whole judgment is
satisfied, except that where any prior alienee has not recorded
his deed or conveyance another parcel of the judgment debtor's
land, subsequently aliened to a purchaser for value and without
notice of the prior alienation, shall be considered as having
been aliened prior to the aforesaid unrecorded alienation. But
any part of such real estate retained by the debtor himself shall
be first liable to the satisfaction of the judgment.
WVC 38 - 3 - 17
§38-3-17. Judgment liens commencing on same day.
Where two or more judgments are rendered against the same
person, and the liens thereof on his real estate commerce on the
same day, the creditors having such judgments shall be entitled
to satisfaction out of such real estate ratably.
WVC 38 - 3 - 18
§38-3-18. Limitations on enforcement of judgments.
(a) On a judgment, execution may be issued within ten years
after the date thereof. Where execution issues within ten years as
aforesaid, other executions may be issued on such judgment within
ten years from the return day of the last execution issued thereon,
on which there is no return by an officer, or which has been
(b) For any order for child support in an action filed on and
after the amendment and reenactment of this section during the
legislative session of two thousand eight, an execution may be
issued upon a judgment for child support, as those terms are
defined in chapter forty-eight of this code, within ten years after
the emancipation of the child: Provided, That in cases where the
support order is for more than one child, the limitations set forth
in subsection (a) of this section commence when the youngest child
who is the subject of the order on which the execution is based
reaches the age of eighteen or is otherwise legally emancipated.
(c) An action, suit or scire facias may be brought upon a
judgment where there has been a change of parties by death or
otherwise at any time within ten years next after the date of the
judgment; or within ten years from the return day of the last
execution issued thereon on which there is no return by an officer
or which has been returned unsatisfied. But if such action, suit
or scire facias be against the personal representative of a
decedent, it shall be brought within five years from the qualification of such representative.
WVC 38 - 3 - 19
§38-3-19. Exceptions to limitations.
No execution shall issue, nor any action, suit or scire
facias be brought on any judgment in this state after the time
prescribed in the preceding section, except that in computing the
time, any time during which the right to sue out execution on the
judgment is suspended by the terms thereof, or by legal process,
shall be omitted from the computation; and sections fifteen,
sixteen, seventeen and eighteen, article two, chapter fifty-five
of this code shall apply to the right to bring such action, suit
or scire facias, in like manner as to any right, action, suit or
scire facias mentioned in those sections; and except that when
the judgment is for a sum ascertained, and such further sums as
may be afterwards assessed, or be found due upon a scire facias
assigning a further breach, as provided in section thirty,
article six, chapter fifty-six of this code, such scire facias
may be brought within ten years after such breach.
Note: WV Code updated with legislation passed through the 2012 1st Special Session