Judgment Collection FAQ

What is a judgment?

In California, a judgmentis the final ruling of the court. Cal. Code of Civ. Proc. § 577. Often it determines how much money, if any, one party owes another party.  The party who owes the money the money is the judgment debtor. The person who is owed the money is the judgment creditor.

When is a judgment enforceable?

Judgments are enforceable (meaning you can collect on them in accordance with the law) once they have been entered. Unless you live in a county that maintains a judgment book (no longer common) you enter a judgment by filing it with the clerk of the court. Once you enter the judgment, you will want to make sure to get “an endorsed copy” of the judgment that was entered and serve a “notice of entry of judgment” on the person who owes you money. A “notice of entry of judgment” is, quite simply, notice to the person or persons who owe money that the judgment has been entered against them. In some situations you will need to use a specific form created by the California State Judicial Council. It is a good idea to consult a lawyer to make sure you file and serve the notice of entry of judgment properly.

When should I file a notice of entry of judgment?

You should file a notice of entry of judgment as soon as possible so you can start taking steps to collect on your judgment. However, there are other reasons you should file your notice of entry of judgment quickly. The losing party can appeal most judgments with a set time frame. This time frame starts ticking when you file the notice of entry of judgment, so it’s good to file it as quickly as possible.

Warning: though you want to get your judgment and file a notice of entry judgment as soon as possible, it is a good idea to talk to a lawyer, if possible, before getting the final judgment, because it can be difficult to change a judgment once it has been entered. For example, you would like your judgment to be against both the corporation (where a corporation is involved) and its owners because some owners of corporations will simply close the corporation and start a new one to make collection of the judgment more difficult.

How can I collect on my judgment?

All judgment debtors are different. Therefore, you will want to use different laws and tactics to collect a judgment, depending on who the judgment debtor is. You should contact an experienced attorney before trying to collect your judgment.

 

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