Palmer v. Secretary of Department of Veterans Affairs

A-2464-98T3 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 2000) (Unpublished)
  • Opinion Date: February 14, 2000

FORECLOSURE; LIENS; LIS PENDENS—A judgment for other than a sum certain provides no notice to a foreclosing mortgagee and a foreclosing mortgagee has priority over the judgment even if it is converted to a sum certain after the filing of a lis pendens.

In 1988, a family court order provided that a wage garnishment would issue in the event an ex-husband fell more than two weeks in arrears in child support payments. Based upon that order, in 1992 the ex-wife obtained a sum certain final judgment against her ex-husband. In 1991, however, a lis pendens was filed against the ex-husband in connection with a mortgage foreclosure action. The effect of such a filing is that any person who claims a subsequent lien upon the real estate is bound by any judgment entered into the action in which the lis pendens was filed as though the lienholder had been made a party to the action and served with process. Here, the lis pendens was filed before the final judgment for unpaid arrearages. Consequently, the lis pendens precluded any enforceable lien claim the ex-wife had against her ex-husband’s real estate. Contrary to the ex-wife’s contention, the 1988 order did not qualify her as a judgment lien creditor entitled to notice of a foreclosure action. The lien given to a judgment creditor attaches to lands of the judgment debtor only when the creditor’s claim is reduced to a sum certain in a final decision of the Superior Court. The 1988 order was interlocutory in nature, was not for a sum certain, and, most importantly, provided no notice to any foreclosing mortgagee that the ex-wife was a judgment creditor.