Enforcement of Judgment
The court will not collect the judgment for you. The key to enforcing a judgment is knowing where the judgment debtor's assets are located. Common sources of assets are bank accounts, employment, rental income, and business receipts.
For information on ways to collect judgment, click on a topic below:
If You Do Not Have Any Information About the Judgment Debtor's Assets
If you do not have any information about the judgment debtor's assets, you may file an Application and Order to Produce Statement of Assets and to Appear for Examination (SC-134) with the clerk.
- The Order of Examination is a hearing where you ask the judgment debtor questions about his or her assets. You may ask where the judgment debtor banks and where he or she works, among other questions. There is a fee to file an Order of Examination of a Judgment Debtor.
- If you file for an Order of Examination, you may request a Subpoena Duces Tecum from the court which, when served, will order the debtor to bring certain documents to the examination hearing. Documents that are generally subpoenaed include pay stubs, bank statements, accounts receivable, and any other documents that tend to show where assets are.
- Both the Application and Order to Produce Statement of Assets and to Appear for Examination and Subpoena Duces Tecum must be personally served on the judgment debtor. For more information on personal service, see our Proof of Service page.
If the judgment debtor is employed, his/her wages may be garnished to pay off the judgment. To begin the wage garnishment process, do the following:
- File both a Writ of Execution (EJ-130) and a Memorandum of Costs After Judgment, Acknowledgement of Credit, and Declaration of Accrued Interest (MC-012) and pay the filing fee to the clerk.
- Once the clerk has processed the writ, take the original writ to the Sheriff's office and request an Application for Earnings Withholding Order.Note: Fill out the forms completely with the employer's name and address and the judgment debtor's full name.
- Pay the Sheriff Department fee to serve the wage garnishment.
The Sheriff's office can tell you how soon the garnishment should begin after it is served, and how much of the judgment debtor's wages per pay period may be garnished.
Rental Income Garnishment
If the judgment debtor owns rental property, you may garnish the rents paid by the current tenants. The procedure is the same as wage garnishment, except you instruct the Sheriff's Department to do a rent garnishment instead of a wage garnishment. There is a fee for the Writ of Execution as well as for the Sheriff's Department to serve the rent garnishment.
If you know the bank and branch where the judgment debtor (or spouse) has a deposit account, you may levy on the funds in the account. To begin this procedure, you must file either a Request for Writ of Execution or Abstract (SC-029) or a Writ of Execution (EJ-130) and pay the fee with the clerk. Once the clerk has processed the writ, take the original writ to the Sheriff's office and request a bank levy. Once the Sheriff's Department serves the levy, the bank account is frozen and the account holder is notified. The Sheriff's Department charges a fee for this service.
Till Tap/Keeper's Levy
If the judgment debtor owns a business that has a cash register, you may arrange for a Deputy Sheriff to go to the business and do either a Till Tap or a Keeper's Levy.
- A Till Tap sends a Deputy Sheriff into the business to take all cash and checks out of the cash register.
- A Keeper's Levy stations the Deputy Sheriff at the business for 4 or 8 hours to collect money as it is paid to the business.
The Sheriff's Department charges a fee to serve the Writ of Execution. Remember that the judgment debtor may close his or her business for the day and the Deputy Sheriff would be unable to collect any money.
Certain money is exempt from levy, such as child support payments. If the judgment debtor files a Claim of Exemption from the levy, you will be notified and will have an opportunity to oppose any claim of exemption.
Judgment Lien on Real Property
- If the judgment debtor owns real property, you may record an Abstract of Judgment with the County Recorder which will act as a lien against all real property owned by the judgment debtor in the county in which the lien is recorded. Complete an Abstract of Judgment (EJ-001) and submit to the court to be issued. There is a fee for the Abstract of Judgment. Once the Abstract has been issued by the court, record the Abstract at the County Recorder's Office.
- The Abstract places a lien on any real property owned by the judgment debtor located in the county in which it is recorded. Before the judgment debtor's real property can be sold or refinanced, the lien must be satisfied. NOTE: You may record an Abstract of Judgment in any county in which the judgment debtor owns property.
Suspending the Judgment Debtor's Driver's License
- If the judgment resulted from a motor vehicle accident on a California highway, the judgment creditor can ask to get the judgment debtor driver's license suspended. Refer to item 10 on the Notice of Entry of Judgment (SC-130).
- To suspend the judgment debtor driver's license, fill out a Certificate of Facts RE Unsatisfied Judgment (DL30) from the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). If the judgment is $500 or less, DMV will suspend the driver's license for 90 days. If the judgment is more than $500, the driver's license will be suspended until they pay.
- To get more information, contact the DMV.
Costs After Judgment
A judgment creditor is entitled to recover certain costs incurred in enforcing a judgment. The judgment creditor is also entitled to claim 10% simple interest on the principal amount of the judgment. Costs must be added to the judgment within two years of incurring them. Interest may be added at any time.
Accumulated costs and interest are added to the judgment by filing a Memorandum of Costs After Judgment, Acknowledgment of Credit, and Declaration of Accrued Interest (MC-012) with the clerk. Complete the form and have it sent by first class mail or served personally on the judgment debtor by a non-party to the action who is at least 18 years of age. After serving the judgment debtor, file the original with the clerk.