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In today's current economic climate, if you have previously won a court judgment against a debtor but still haven't received the money, it is more important than ever to renew your judgment with the court before it expires. The California Code of Civil Procedure, sections 683.010 to 683.220, states that a judgment issued by a California state or federal court, and any real estate liens associated with that judgment, lasts for only ten years.
With any luck, you will be able to collect your judgment within that ten-year period. However, if you do not, you can renew your judgment along with any judgment liens you created on the debtor's real estate. The judgment can be renewed for successive ten-year periods. Keep in mind, once a judgment has been renewed, it cannot be renewed again until five years later.
The only exceptions are judgments for child or spousal support; these do not need to be renewed since they are enforceable until paid in full.
It is important that if you plan on renewing your judgment for an additional ten years, you must do so before it expires. If you fail to renew your judgment even one day after it expires, you are out of luck! You would need to file another lawsuit in order to obtain a judgment on your judgment. If your judgment is successfully renewed, the interest that has accrued will be added to the principal amount owing. Don't forget to renew any liens that you have placed on property as these also need to be renewed.
The California Courts Self-Help Center website provides more information about the process of renewing a court judgment including references to the two forms used in renewing a judgment, Application for and Renewal of Judgment and Notice of Renewal of Judgment. For samples and instructions on how to complete these forms, take a look at an excellent self-help legal book, "How to Collect When You Win a Lawsuit" published by Nolo Press. This book also contains information and tips on how to collect money that is owed to you including wage garnishment. Another good resource is the California Department of Consumer Affairs website which also provides practical information on collecting your judgment.
By Robyn M. Moltzen, Public Services Librarian
Code of Civil Procedure, sections 683.010 to 683.220
"Collect Your Judgment," California Courts Self-Help Center
Application for and Renewal of Judgment (EJ-190)
Notice of Renewal of Judgment (EJ-195)
"After the Judgment ... Collecting or Satisfying the Judgment," California Department of Consumer Affairs