An interesting question was raised in an ABA Family Law Listserv discussion recently concerning whether a 1994 judgment of divorce dividing the parties' property (specifically a business) was still enforceable.
Here's what Ron said about trying to enforce a 21-year-old judgment. The point of his advice is: "People, don't sit on your rights!" A take-away for lawyers is this: You should always provide clients with information about the time limitations for enforcement of judgments so that they will take steps to enforce and not be left with an empty basket.
Ron Nelson said, "Simply put, an unexecuted judgment becomes dormant after five years, and shall remain dormant for an additional two years." Thus, a plaintiff may neglect his judgment for seven years, lacking a day, and then revive and put it in force for five years more.” Riney v. Riney, 205 Kan. 671, 680, 473 P.2d 77 (1970). If, however, a party neglects his judgment for over seven years, the judgment extinguishes and becomes unenforceable. The relevant statute mandates the Court to release the judgment of record upon request, stating that it “shall be the duty of the judge” to release a judgment which has exceeded the seven-year deadline. See K.S.A. 60-2403(a)(1) (emphasis added). The statute does not allow for courts to make findings as to whether a judgment may linger beyond the seven-year threshold, nor whether its enforcement is a discretionary issue. The Kansas Supreme Court has clearly explained what occurs when a judgment exceeds the seven-year threshold, whether or not a motion to release the judgment has been filed: “Once a judgment grows dormant . . . and is not revived pursuant to K.S.A. 1990 Supp. 60-2404, it becomes absolutely extinguished and unenforceable.” Cyr v. Cyr, 249 Kan. 94, 97, 815 P.2d 97 (1991).