When a litigant wins damages in a court trial, the party is referred to as a judgment creditor. This title is given to a plaintiff who has won damages from a defendant since the latter is now legally obligated to pay the former as determined by a court of law. The defendant is then called judgment debtor once he or she is legally obliged to pay damages to a plaintiff.
The court of competent jurisdiction issues a judgment to the plaintiff before he or she can actually claim the damages from the defendant. The court then proceeds to place an entry of judgment into its docket. Once the judgment has been recorded in the docket, the plaintiff must file for execution of such a judgment. Filing for execution involves the recording of legal documents that entitle a plaintiff to damages specified by the court of law due to him or her by the defendant. The plaintiff is then officially recorded as judgment creditor and the defendant as judgment debtor.
When an execution is in order, the judgment debtor appears before a court in a supplementary proceeding to go through his or her assets so as to determine what is subject to the damages awarded to the judgment creditor. When an unsatisfied execution occurs because the judgment debtor fails to surrender the assets that he or she was obligated to, the judgment creditor files a writ of attachment. This legal document is an order from the court to seize the property of the judgment debtor. Before this can be done the judgment creditor must file a judgment lien or encumbrance on the property, which gives the judgment creditor legal rights over the property that the judgment debtor owes.