Collecting a judgment in California is not always a simple process. Depending on the nature of the debtor’s assets, the creditor may face several challenges in collecting his monies. Luckily, there are several laws and legal protections in place to help you collect a judgment in California. Plus, if you’re having trouble collecting your money, A People’s Choice is here to help.

California Judgment Collection Laws

If you win a civil lawsuit and the judgment states that the defendant owes you money or property, you will be deemed a judgment creditor and the defendant a judgment debtor. Unfortunately, the court will not collect the judgment for you. Instead, you will need to formulate a plan for collecting your judgment via legal action.

Before taking action, you have to wait 30 days from the date the clerk mailed the notice of entry of judgment to the parties. During this 30 day period, the judgment debtor can pay the full amount of the judgment, appeal the decision of the trial court, or file a motion to vacate the judgment.

How Long Can a Judgment Be Enforced in California?

The court can enforce a money judgment for up to 10 years in California. After the 10 year period, the judgment will expire unless it is renewed in time. However, once a judgment is renewed, it cannot be renewed again until five years later. Renewing the judgment will allow you to continue to collect money for the outstanding obligation with interest.

What is a Dormant Judgment?

A dormant judgment is one that has not been executed or enforced within the prescribed statutory time limit. When a judgment becomes dormant, the legal force and effect of the judgment becomes null and void unless it is revived. All valid judgments may be revived if they have not been satisfied; however, the revival process varies from state to state. For example, in California, a judgment renewal is necessary to extend the lien and enforceability of the judgment. 

Can a Judgment Expire?

After entering a judgment, it is important to calendar its expiration deadline. As mentioned above, a money judgment will automatically expire after 10 years. Therefore, you will need to renew the judgment every 10 years or it will expire. Do not wait until the last minute to renew the judgment as doing so can jeopardize your right to collect any outstanding monies the debtor owes you.

What is a Satisfaction of Judgment?

The satisfaction of a judgment occurs once the debtor pays in full and the creditor submits a satisfaction of judgment form to the clerk. The judgment debtor can request for the judgment creditor to file the form in the event he fails to do so. Furthermore, the judgment debtor may want to update his credit report after the satisfaction of judgment.

How to Collect a Judgment in California: Our Top Tips

As mentioned above, a judgment creditor must wait 30 days prior to asking for their money judgment. During this waiting period, the judgment debtor may likely file an appeal. Therefore, it’s best to wait until the appeal deadline ends before attempting to enforce the judgment as the judgment debtor is not required to pay while an appeal is pending.

After the 30 day waiting period, the judgment creditor should make an official business request for payment. However, they should write this request with no mention of how they plan to collect the judgment in the event the judgment debtor disagrees to pay. Keep things amicable by sending follow-up correspondence within a reasonable time reminding the judgement debtor about the judgment in the event he delays paying it.

That being said, if the judgment debtor fails to pay after several requests, the judgment creditor should create a judgment collection strategy. First, the judgement creditor should start with easy-to-reach assets. For example, money in bank accounts and wages are easy to garnish to satisfy a judgment. However, whatever you do, do not harass the debtor. There are several state and federal laws that protect debtors from creditors.

Using a Registered Legal Document Assistant

Whether you’re having trouble collecting judgment or simply need assistance with the process, spending thousands of dollars on an expensive attorney is a waste. Instead, a registered legal document assistant can help you prepare the necessary documents to collect judgment. Contact A People’s Choice today to learn how we can help! Give us a call at 800-747-2780 to inquire about our judgment services.

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