In some jurisdictions, mortgagees must get a court order to foreclose on a mortgage. This is called a judicial foreclosure. Judicial foreclosures (like all foreclosures), are governed by the law of the jurisdiction that the mortgaged property is located in. This is almost always the law of a state. See: State Property Statutes.
To obtain a judicial foreclosure, a mortgagee must prove they own the property to the court and the mortgagee has the right to foreclose on it. This is proved through a judicial proceeding requiring service of process, pleadings, a judicial trial, and other formalities.
Although judicial foreclosures can be long and expensive, they can be useful for settling disputes in the mortgage instruments or between the parties. Dispute resolution facilitates futures sales of the property because there is less uncertainty about the property.
[Last updated in June of 2023 by the Wex Definitions Team]