We are Houston, Texas based lawyers. who are often asked by clients to take judgments, collect judgments and overturn judgments. It is important for individuals and business entities to know whether a judgment has been taken against them and whether that judgment is final. A “final” judgment has important consequences, because generally an appeal can only be made from a final judgment. Additionally, the date the final judgment or final order disposing of the case is signed begins the deadlines for filing any post-judgment motions and appeals deadlines. In Texas, the period in which the court that signed the judgment still has power of the judgment is also calculated from the date the final judgment or order disposing of the case is signed. If you believe a judgment against you or your business has been signed, immediately seek the help of a licensed attorney in your jurisdiction.
In Texas, a judgment is final only if it disposes of all parties and all claims in the lawsuit. If a judgment resolves all claims, it is final even it says that it is not. In Texas, a judgment issued without a conventional trial is final for the purpose of appeal if and only if either it actually disposes of all parties and all claims then before the court, regardless of its language, or it states with unmistakable clarity that it is a final judgment as to all claims and all parties. On the other hand, an order does not dispose of all parties and claims simply because it is titled “final.” There is a presumption that a judgment signed following a conventional trial on the merits disposes of all claims and is final.
In Texas, the general rule is that an interlocutory judgment is not final and appealable. An interlocutory judgment can be converted into a final judgment by merger or severance. An interlocutory judgment is merged into a final judgment when all the remaining claims are resolved, either on the merits or by dismissal. An interlocutory judgment can also become final when the trial court severs the interlocutory judgment from the unadjudicated claims.
A party with a final judgment in Texas can begin garnishment immediately after a final judgment is signed. Garnishment is a process in which a judgment creditor “freezes” assets of the judgment debtor while the assets are held by a third party. Bank accounts are the most common third-party asset “frozen” by garnishments. Executions and levy are generally not available until the time for filing motions for new trial have run. In Texas, this can be 30-120 days from the signing of a final judgment.