Real Estate Liens: Circuit Court, Associate Circuit Court, Small Claims

Collecting is often times the entire battle. Even if you obtain a monetary judgment in your favor in Missouri, it can still be an incredibly lengthy process to collect any money. Liens on real estate are often the best way to execute on a judgment.
To be clear, a judgment is simply a formal order by a Court, which, in this context, finds one individual (judgment debtor) monetarily liable to another individual (judgment creditor). A lien is a claim against property. In Missouri, a judgment typically becomes final thirty (30) days after it is signed by the Judge; thus, it is after this period when collection efforts often begin.
Regarding real estate liens, the type of Court which entered the judgment is very important. If the judgment was entered by a circuit court, there is an automatic lien on any real property owned by the debtor in that county. If the judgment was entered by the associate division of the circuit court, then it would need to be transcribed in the Circuit Court to create the lien. Small claims judgment generally do not create a lien on real estate and are usually levied upon independently.
Do note that judgments only apply to real property owned by the debtor in that county. If you would like to file a lien on real property outside of the county which entered the judgment, then a transcript judgment would need to be filed in the other counties.
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