Collecting a judgment in California is not always a simple process. Depending on the nature of the judgment debtor’s assets, the judgment creditor may face several challenges in collecting the judgement. Read on to learn more about how to collect a judgment in California.

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. You will need to formulate a plan how you will collect your judgment. You are required to take legal action to collect the judgment. You have to wait 30 days from the date the clerk mailed the Notice of Entry of Judgment to the parties before you can take action. 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?

A money judgment can be enforced up to 10 years in California. After the 10 year period, the judgment will expire unless it is renewed in time. Once a judgment is renewed, it cannot be renewed again until 5 years later. Renewing the judgment will allow you to continue to collect money for the outstanding obligation. You are entitled to collect interest on your Judgment as well.

Tips for Enforcing Judgments in California

There are several tips for enforcing judgments in California that may affect the success rate of collecting your judgment. As mentioned above, there is a 30 day waiting period before a judgment creditor can ask to get its money judgment. A judgment creditor should not rush to collect the judgment. The judgment debtor may likely file an appeal. It’s best for the judgment creditor to wait until the appeal deadline ends before attempting to enforce the judgment. The judgment debtor is not required to pay the judgment while an appeal is pending.

Another tip, as simple as it may seem, is to ask for your money. Make an official business request for payment. You do not have to go into details on how you plan to collect the judgment in the event the judgment debtor disagrees to pay. Send follow-up correspondence within a reasonable time reminding the judgement debtor about the judgment in the event he delays paying it.

If the judgment debtor fails to pay after several request are made, the judgment creditor should come up with 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. Whatever you do, do not harass the debtor. There are several state and federal laws that protect debtors from creditors.

What is a Dormant Judgment?

A dormant judgment is a judgment which is not 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 has been revived. All judgments that are valid may be revived if they have not been satisfied; however, the renewal/revival process varies from state to state. In California, a renewal of the judgment is necessary to extend the lien and enforceability of the judgment.  Dormant judgments occur when a judgment creditor fails to renew a judgment. 

Can A Judgment Expire?

Once a judgment has been entered, it is important to calendar the deadline that the judgment will expire. As mentioned above, a money judgment will automatically expire after 10 years. The judgment will need to be renewed every 10 years or it will expire. Do not wait until the last minute to renew the judgment. Doing so can jeopardize your right to collect any outstanding monies owed to you on your judgment.

What is A Satisfaction of Judgment?

The satisfaction of a judgment occurs once it is paid in full. The judgment creditor must submit a Satisfaction of Judgment form to the clerk. The judgment debtor can request for the judgment creditor to file the form with the clerk in the event he fails to do so. A judgment debtor may want to update his credit report once the judgment is satisfied.

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