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Enforcement of Judgments


Collect When You Win a Lawsuit

After obtaining a judgment, the judgment creditor's next step is to attempt to collect what is owed. The court does not collect judgments; the prevailing party is responsible for all collection efforts. However, the court may issue a variety or orders and other documents that may be used to collect your judgment from the debtor.

FIRST STEP: LOCATE THE JUDGMENT DEBTOR.
Before any collection efforts may begin, the judgment debtor must be located. Soon after the entry of judgment, this may be an easy task. However, as time passes, it can become increasingly difficult to locate the judgment debtor. For tips on how to do this, see the Legal Research Guide on Finding People and Businesses on our website at www.saclaw.org/pages/finding-people.aspx.

SECOND STEP: DETERMINE THE DEBTOR'S ASSETS
An Order of Examination, also called a Debtor's Examination, is a formal court proceeding during which a judgment creditor may question the judgment debtor about their income and property, to determine what assets are available to the creditor for collection of a judgment.

For More Information

On the Web:
California Courts Self-Help Website, Get Information About the Debtor's Assets  www.courts.ca.gov/11187.htm

California Courts Self-Help Website, Sample Questions to Ask a Debtor www.courts.ca.gov/11328.htm

Sacramento County Superior Court Website, Orders of Examination www.saccourt.ca.gov/civil/orders-of-examination.aspx

Discover the Judgment Debtor's Assets,  Step-by-Step guide from the Sacramento County Public Law Library www.saclaw.org/pages/debtor-exam.aspx   

At the Law Library:
California Forms of Pleading and Practice KFC 1010 .A65 C3 (Ready Reference)
Chap. 254, §§ 254:220-254:230
Electronic Access:  On the Law Library's computers, using the Matthew Bender CD.

California Practice Guide: Enforcing Judgments and Debts KFC 1065 .A9 S3
Chap. 6G
Electronic Access:  On the Law Library's computers, using WestlawNext.

Debt Collection Practice in California KFC 256 .C83 Chap. 8
Electronic Access:  On the Law Library's computers, using OnLaw.

Enforcing Civil Money Judgments: Here's How and When to Do It KFC 1065 .O65
Electronic Access:  On the Law Library's computers, using OnLaw.

How to Collect When You Win a Lawsuit KFC 1065 .Z9 S25 (Self Help) Chap. 6

Matthew Bender Practice Guide. California Debt Collection and Enforcement of Judgments KFC 1065 .E5 M38 Chap. 10, §§ 10.25-10.44A
Electronic Access:  On the Law Library's computers, using the Matthew Bender CD.

Witkin's California Procedure KFC 995 .W58 (Ready Reference)
Chap. 10 (Enforcement of Judgments), §§ 275-290
Electronic Access:  On the Law Library's computers, using WestlawNext.

THIRD STEP: CALCUATE THE AMOUNT OWED, INCLUDING POST-JUDGMENT COSTS AND INTEREST
Before beginning enforcement procedures, a judgment creditor must determine the amount currently owed. Unless judgment debtor promptly pays the judgment in full, the judgment amount ordered by the court is rarely the final amount paid to the judgment creditor. A judgment creditor is entitled to reimbursement of any post-judgment costs, such as the costs associated with enforcing the judgment (including the cost of issuing the Writ of Execution, Levying Officers' fees, fees for the Application for Order for Appearance of Judgment Debtor, etc.). Additionally, unpaid judgment amounts accrue interest at the legal rate of 10% per year.

For More Information

On the Web:
Judgment Calculators www.ijcalc.sdcourt.ca.gov/Disclaimer.aspx
Used to determine the amount of interest on a judgment

Adding Costs and Interest to a Judgment, Step-by-Step guide from the Sacramento County Public Law Library www.saclaw.org/pages/memo-costs.aspx    

At the Law Library:
California Forms of Pleading and PracticeKFC 1010 .A65 C3 (Ready Reference)
Chap. 174
Electronic Access:  On the Law Library's computers, using the Matthew Bender CD.

California Practice Guide: Enforcing Judgments and Debts KFC 1065 .A9 S3
Chap. 6, §§ 6:12-6:55.26
Electronic Access:  On the Law Library's computers, using WestlawNext.

How to Collect When You Win a Lawsuit  KFC 1065 .Z9 S25 (Self Help) Chap.16 

Matthew Bender Practice Guide: California Debt Collection and Enforcement of Judgments KFC 1065 .E5 M38 Chap. 9, §§ 9.32-9.36
Electronic Access:  On the Law Library's computers, using the Matthew Bender CD.

FOURTH STEP: BEGIN YOUR COLLECTION EFFORTS.
There are numerous ways a judgment creditor may collect from a judgment debtor. The method(s) used depend on the judgment debtor's assets. Below is information about several common enforcement methods.

COLLECTING FROM WAGES (EARNINGS WITHHOLDING ORDER)
If the judgment debtor is employed, the judgment creditor may garnish up to 25 percent of the amount over the federal minimum wage that the debtor earns until the judgment is paid in full.

For More Information

On the Web:
California Courts Self-Help Website, Collect Your Judgment
www.courts.ca.gov/1014.htm

Ask the Court to Stop or Reduce a Wage Garnishment, Step-by-Step guide from the Sacramento County Public Law Library www.saclaw.org/pages/claim-exemption.aspx

Collect Your Judgment from the Debtor's Paycheck,  Step-by-Step guide from the Sacramento County Public Law Library www.saclaw.org/pages/wage-garnishment.aspx  

Sacramento Sheriff Civil Bureau, Civil Process Types and Fees http://www.sacsheriff.com/Pages/Organization/CorrectionalCourt/civil.aspx
Provides details of the procedures and required documents. Click on "Earnings Withholding Order" for more information.

At the Law Library:
California Civil Practice: Procedure
KFC 995 .A65 B3 Chap. 30, §§ 30:52-30:67
Electronic Access:  On the Law Library's computers, using WestlawNext.

California Forms of Pleading and Practice KFC 1010 .A65 C3 (Ready Reference)
Chap. 276
Electronic Access:  On the Law Library's computers, using the Matthew Bender CD.

California Practice Guide: Enforcing Judgments and Debts KFC 1065 .A9 S3
Chap. 6, §§ 6:1070-6:1264
Electronic Access:  On the Law Library's computers, using WestlawNext.

Debt Collection Practice in California KFC 256 .C83 Chap. 10
Electronic Access:  On the Law Library's computers, using OnLaw.

Enforcing Civil Money Judgments: Here's How and When to Do It KFC 1065 .O65
Electronic Access:  On the Law Library's computers, using OnLaw.

How to Collect When You Win a Lawsuit KFC 1065 .Z9 S25 (Self Help) Chaps. 7, 9

Matthew Bender Practice Guide: California Debt Collection and Enforcement of Judgments KFC 1065 .E5 M38 Chap. 21
Electronic Access:  On the Law Library's computers, using the Matthew Bender CD.

Witkin's California Procedure KFC 995 .W58 (Ready Reference)
Chap. 10 (Enforcement of Judgments), §§ 241 et seq
Electronic Access:  On the Law Library's computers, using WestlawNext.

COLLECTING MONEY FROM A BANK ACCOUNT (BANK LEVY)
If the judgment debtor has a bank account or safe deposit box, the judgment creditor may be able to take money from the account or seize the contents of the box.

For More Information

On the Web:
California Courts Self-Help Website, Collect from the Debtor's Property
www.courts.ca.gov/11190.htm

Collect Your Judgment from the Debtor's Bank Account, Step-by-Step guide from the Sacramento County Public Law Library www.saclaw.org/pages/bank-levy.aspx  

Ask the Court to Stop or Reduce a Bank Levy, Step-by-Step guide from the Sacramento County Public Law Library www.saclaw.org/pages/claim-exemption-bank-levy.aspx

At the Law Library:
California Civil Practice: Procedure
KFC 995 .A65 B3 Chap. 30, §§ 30:23-30:35
Electronic Access:  On the Law Library's computers, using WestlawNext.

California Forms of Pleading and Practice KFC 1010 .A65 C3 (Ready Reference)
Chap. 254 §§ 254.60-254.68
Electronic Access:  On the Law Library's computers, using the Matthew Bender CD.

California Practice Guide: Enforcing Judgments and Debts KFC 1065 .A9 S3
Chap. 6D
Electronic Access:  On the Law Library's computers, using WestlawNext.

Debt Collection Practice in California KFC 256 .C83 Chap. 9
Electronic Access:  On the Law Library's computers, using OnLaw.

Enforcing Civil Money Judgments: Here's How and When to Do It KFC 1065 .O65
Electronic Access:  On the Law Library's computers, using OnLaw.

How to Collect When You Win a Lawsuit KFC 1065 .Z9 S25 (Self Help) Chap. 8

Matthew Bender Practice Guide: California Debt Collection and Enforcement of Judgments KFC 1065 .E5 M38 Chap. 16
Electronic Access:  On the Law Library's computers, using the Matthew Bender CD.

Witkin's California Procedure KFC 995 .W58 (Ready Reference)
Chap. 10 (Enforcement of Judgments), §§ 117-138
Electronic Access:  On the Law Library's computers, using WestlawNext.

PLACING A LIEN ON REAL PROPERTY
If the judgment debtor owns real property, the judgment creditor may place a lien on the property. If the debtor tries to sell or refinance the property, the creditor will be paid the judgment amount plus accrued interest from the escrow. In some situations, it may also be possible to "foreclose" on the judgment lien, and force the sale of the property. This is only an option is there is enough equity in the property to pay all existing liens as well as the costs of foreclosure.

For More Information

On the Web:
California Courts Self-Help Website, Collect from the Debtor's Property
www.courts.ca.gov/11190.htm

Judgment Liens on Property in California www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/judgment-liens-california-46807.html

How to Prepare an Abstract of Judgment in California, Step-by-Step guide from the Sacramento County Public Law Library www.saclaw.org/pages/abstract-of-judgment.aspx

At the Law Library:
California Civil Practice: Procedure
KFC 995 .A65 B3 Chap. 30, §§ 30:15-30:16
Electronic Access:  On the Law Library's computers, using WestlawNext.

California Practice Guide: Enforcing Judgments and Debts KFC 1065 .A9 S3
Chap. 6B
Electronic Access:  On the Law Library's computers, using WestlawNext.

Debt Collection Practice in California KFC 256 .C83 Chap. 7, §§ 7.50-7.57
Electronic Access:  On the Law Library's computers, using OnLaw.

Enforcing Civil Money Judgments: Here's How and When to Do It KFC 1065 .O65
Electronic Access:  On the Law Library's computers, using OnLaw.

How to Collect When You Win a Lawsuit KFC 1065 .Z9 S25 (Self Help) Chap. 4

Matthew Bender Practice Guide: California Debt Collection and Enforcement of Judgments KFC 1065 .E5 M38 Chap. 11, §§ 11.03-11.17
Electronic Access:  On the Law Library's computers, using the Matthew Bender CD.

Witkin's California Procedure KFC 995 .W58 (Ready Reference)
Chap. 10 (Enforcement of Judgments), §§ 69-81
Electronic Access:  On the Law Library's computers, using WestlawNext.

PLACING A LIEN ON PERSONAL PROPERTY
A judgment creditor can have the sheriff take the debtor's personal property and sell it at public auction to pay the debt. This can be any type of property, such as jewelry, computers or other electronic equipment, musical instruments, coin collections, etc. This is an expensive process, though, so unless the property is extremely valuable, it is rarely worthwhile.

For More Information
On the Web:
California Courts Self-Help Website, Collect from the Debtor's Property
www.courts.ca.gov/11190.htm

California Secretary of State, Notice of Judgment Lien www.sos.ca.gov/business/ucc/judgment-lien.htm

Contra Costa County Self-Help Center, How to Put a Lien on the Debtor's Personal Property www.cc-courthelp.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=Page.viewPage&pageId=4801

At the Law Library:
California Civil Practice: Procedure
KFC 995 .A65 B3 Chap. 30, §§ 30:17-30:19
Electronic Access:  On the Law Library's computers, using WestlawNext.

California Practice Guide: Enforcing Judgments and Debts KFC 1065 .A9 S3
Chap. 6C
Electronic Access:  On the Law Library's computers, using WestlawNext.

 Debt Collection Practice in California KFC 256 .C83 Chap. 7, § 7.52
Electronic Access:  On the Law Library's computers, using OnLaw.

Enforcing Civil Money Judgments: Here's How and When to Do It KFC 1065 .O65
Electronic Access:  On the Law Library's computers, using OnLaw.

How to Collect When You Win a Lawsuit KFC 1065 .Z9 S25 (Self Help) Chap. 4

Matthew Bender Practice Guide: California Debt Collection and Enforcement of Judgments KFC 1065 .E5 M38 Chap. 11, §§ 11.18-11.33
Electronic Access:  On the Law Library's computers, using the Matthew Bender CD.

Witkin's California Procedure KFC 995 .W58 (Ready Reference)
Chap. 10 (Enforcement of Judgments), §§ 82-91
Electronic Access:  On the Law Library's computers, using WestlawNext.

PLACING A LIEN ON A LAWSUIT THE DEBTOR HAS AGAINST SOMEONE ELSE
If the judgment debtor has a lawsuit against someone else, the judgment creditor may place a lien on the money the debtor hopes to recover if he or she wins that lawsuit. 

For More Information

On the Web:
California Courts Self-Help Website, Collect from the Debtor's Property
www.courts.ca.gov/11190.htm

At the Law Library:
California Practice Guide: Enforcing Judgments and Debts
KFC 1065 .A9 S3
Chap. 6G, §§ 6:1476-6:1508
Electronic Access:  On the Law Library's computers, using WestlawNext.

Debt Collection Practice in California KFC 256 .C83 Chap. 9, § 9.27
Electronic Access:  On the Law Library's computers, using OnLaw.

Enforcing Civil Money Judgments: Here's How and When to Do It KFC 1065 .O65
Electronic Access:  On the Law Library's computers, using OnLaw.

Matthew Bender Practice Guide: California Debt Collection and Enforcement of Judgments KFC 1065 .E5 M38 Chap. 11, § 11.34-11.45
Electronic Access:  On the Law Library's computers, using the Matthew Bender CD.

Witkin's California Procedure KFC 995 .W58 (Ready Reference)
Chap. 10 (Enforcement of Judgments), §§ 297-304
Electronic Access:  On the Law Library's computers, using WestlawNext.

PLACING A TILL TAP OR KEEPER
If the judgment debtor is a business or the sole proprietor of a business, the sheriff may visit the business and take all money on the premises to pay the judgment debt and the sheriff's fee. The sheriff's department may also station a deputy near the cash register, and take possession of all funds as they come in.

For More Information

On the Web:
California Courts Self-Help Website, More Ways to Collect
www.courts.ca.gov/11188.htm

At the Law Library:
California Practice Guide: Enforcing Judgments and Debts
KFC 1065 .A9 S3
Chap. 6D, §§ 6:478-6:490
Electronic Access:  On the Law Library's computers, using WestlawNext.

Debt Collection Practice in California KFC 256 .C83 Chap. 9, § 9.22
Electronic Access:  On the Law Library's computers, using OnLaw.

How to Collect When You Win a Lawsuit KFC 1065 .Z9 S25 (Self Help) Chap.11

Witkin's California Procedure KFC 995 .W58 (Ready Reference)
Chap. 10 (Enforcement of Judgments), § 126
Electronic Access:  On the Law Library's computers, using WestlawNext.

SUSPENDING THE DEBTOR'S REAL ESTATE, CONTRACTOR'S, OR DRIVER'S LICENSE
If the judgment is related to a license, (e.g., a car accident is related to a driver's license; construction defects are related to a contractor's license), the judgment creditor may be able to have the judgment debtor's license suspended.

For More Information

On the Web:
California Courts Self-Help Website, More Ways to Collect
www.courts.ca.gov/11188.htm

Department of Motor Vehicles, Unsatisfied Judgments
www.dmv.ca.gov/forms/dl/dl30.htm (judgments over $750)
www.dmv.ca.gov/forms/dl/dl17.htm (judgments under $750)

Los Angeles County Department of Consumer Affairs, Suspending a Driver License to Force Payment www.dca.lacounty.gov/tsColSuspDrvrL.html

Contractors State License Board, Civil Judgments www.cslb.ca.gov/Consumers/LegalIssuesForConsumers/CivilJudgments.asp

California Department of Real Estate, Consumer Recovery Account www.dre.ca.gov/Consumers/ConsumerRecoveryAccount.html  

 At the Law Library:
Matthew Bender Practice Guide: California Debt Collection and Enforcement of Judgments
KFC 1065 .E5 M38 Chap. 11, §§ 11.46-11.61
Electronic Access:  On the Law Library's computers, using the Matthew Bender CD.

Witkin's California Procedure KFC 995 .W58 (Ready Reference)
Chap. 10 (Enforcement of Judgments), §§ 437-444
Electronic Access:  On the Law Library's computers, using WestlawNext.

OBTAINING A SEIZURE, TURNOVER, OR ASSIGNMENT ORDER
A seizure order allows the sheriff to take property from a private residence, while a turnover order requires the judgment debtor to give the property to the sheriff. These orders are most commonly used for large, expensive items, such as pianos, boats, or stereo systems. An assignment order requires the debtor to assign ongoing payments, such as sales commissions or rents, to the judgment creditor.

For More Information

On the Web:
California Courts Self-Help Website, More Ways to Collect
www.courts.ca.gov/11188.htm

Sacramento Sheriff Civil Bureau, Civil Process Types and Fees http://www.sacsheriff.com/Pages/Organization/CorrectionalCourt/civil.aspx
Provides details of the procedures and required documents.

At the Law Library:
California Forms of Pleading and Practice
KFC 1010 .A65 C3 (Ready Reference)
Chap. 254, § 254.64
Electronic Access:  On the Law Library's computers, using the Matthew Bender CD.

California Practice Guide: Enforcing Judgments and Debts KFC 1065 .A9 S3
Chap. 6D; Chap. 6G §§ 1422-1457
Electronic Access:  On the Law Library's computers, using WestlawNext.

Debt Collection Practice in California KFC 256 .C83 Chap. 9, § 9.18
Electronic Access:  On the Law Library's computers, using OnLaw.

Enforcing Civil Money Judgments: Here's How and When to Do It KFC 1065 .O65
Electronic Access:  On the Law Library's computers, using OnLaw.

Matthew Bender Practice Guide: California Debt Collection and Enforcement of Judgments KFC 1065 .E5 M38 Chap. 16, §§ 16.53-16.57; Chap 20, §§ 20.20-20.30 Electronic Access:  On the Law Library's computers, using the Matthew Bender CD.

Witkin's California Procedure KFC 995 .W58 (Ready Reference)
Chap. 10 (Enforcement of Judgments), §§ 305-309
Electronic Access:  On the Law Library's computers, using WestlawNext.

NEXT STEP: RENEW THE JUDGMENT IF IT IS NOT YET PAID IN FULL
Money judgments automatically expire after 10 years, unless the judgment creditor renews the judgment before it expires. A judgment may be renewed for another 10 years, and renewed repeatedly until it is paid in full.

For More Information

On the Web:
California Courts Self-Help Website, Renew your Judgment
www.courts.ca.gov/1180.htm

Everyday Law, Renewing a Judgment www.saclaw.org/pages/renewing-judgment.aspx

Renew Your Judgment, Step-by-Step guide from the Sacramento County Public Law Library www.saclaw.org/pages/renew-judgment.aspx

At the Law Library:
California Practice Guide: Enforcing Judgments and Debts
KFC 1065 .A9 S3
Chap. 6, §§ 6:60-6:102
Electronic Access:  On the Law Library's computers, using WestlawNext.

Debt Collection Practice in California KFC 256 .C83 Chap. 7, §§ 7.65-7.73
Electronic Access:  On the Law Library's computers, using OnLaw.

Enforcing Civil Money Judgments: Here's How and When to Do It KFC 1065 .O65
Electronic Access:  On the Law Library's computers, using OnLaw.

How to Collect When You Win a Lawsuit KFC 1065 .Z9 S25 (Self Help) Chap. 20

Matthew Bender Practice Guide: California Debt Collection and Enforcement of Judgments KFC 1065 .E5 M38 Chap. 13
Electronic Access:  On the Law Library's computers, using the Matthew Bender CD.

Witkin's California Procedure KFC 995 .W58 (Ready Reference)
Chap. 10 (Enforcement of Judgments), §§ 35-40
Electronic Access:  On the Law Library's computers, using WestlawNext.

FINAL STEP: ONCE THE JUDGMENT IS PAID IN FULL
Once a judgment is paid, either in full or in an amount the judgment creditor agrees to accept as full payment, the judgment creditor must file an Acknowledgement of Satisfaction of Judgment (EJ-100) with the court. It must also be filed with the County Recorder's Office if any liens were placed on real property and with the Secretary of State's Office, if liens were placed on personal property. If you do not file an Acknowledgment of Satisfaction of Judgment, the judgment debtor may sue you for any damages caused by your failure to file the Acknowledgment, plus $100.

For More Information

On the Web:
California Courts Self-Help Website, After the Judgment is Paid
www.courts.ca.gov/1182.htm

After Your Judgment is Paid - Step-by-Step guide from the Sacramento County Public Law Library www.saclaw.org/pages/satis-judgment.aspx

At the Law Library:
California Practice Guide: Enforcing Judgments and Debts
KFC 1065 .A9 S3
Chap. 6K, §§ 6:1876-6:1901
Electronic Access:  On the Law Library's computers, using WestlawNext.

Debt Collection Practice in California KFC 256 .C83 Chap. 7, §§ 7.75-7.78
Electronic Access:  On the Law Library's computers, using OnLaw.

How to Collect When You Win a Lawsuit KFC 1065 .Z9 S25 (Self Help) Chap.22

Matthew Bender Practice Guide: California Debt Collection and Enforcement of Judgments KFC 1065 .E5 M38 Chap. 24
Electronic Access:  On the Law Library's computers, using the Matthew Bender CD.

created 2/13 mpj
updated 2/14 mpj