True legal time bombs. Good to talk to a lawyer on this.
A typical scenario is you have a credit card debt, say fairly big, so instead of sending to collections the creditor sends to court and gets a judge to okay a lien against your property. Banks look at a judgement as more toxic than a bankruptcy. It is. A true land mine.
Unlike collections which might be negotiated or resolved, a judgment is secured against the house. That being said we had a client with 3 large credit card balances, say $95,000 in total. The law firm said they would not negotiate which was within their right. We said client can pay back $ 65,000 to resolve the debt. After going back and forth the law firm asked how realistic it was and we said totally. So they agreed and client saved $ 30,000.
Usually a judgement is paid in full. Like a like time bomb, it really adds up. Many times a person might be in crisis and hides from court papers in the mail. It is sometimes hard to get motivated to fight but, address it you must. Having ALL the documents and full history is a good start. This is an area to consult a lawyer as well.