Judgment Collection Laws & Statutes

  • The "Enforcement Of Judgments Law" (EJL)
  • California Uniform Fraudulent Transfers Act

AN OVERVIEW OF CALIFORNIA COLLECTIONS LAW

The procedure for collecting judgments in California is mostly governed by the Enforcement of Judgments Law, usually referred to the "EJL". The EJL provides a framework for the basic remedies, including levies, garnishments, assignment orders, charging orders, and the appointment of receivers, etc.

In addition to the EJL, a variety of California statutes provide additional avenues for creditors to seek relief, such as the California Uniform Fraudulent Transfers Act ("CUFTA").

California debtors have little protection from creditors. While federal law caps the Garnishment of Wages at 25% of take home, the California exemptions are sparse.

In a state where few homes are valued under $250,000, the EJL exempts only a minimal $50,000 for an unmarried person, $75,000 for a couple ... and $150,000 for those who are disabled or over the age of 65.

Otherwise, California exemptions are minimal.

Life Insurance Policies have minimal protection, and most annuities have none at all. IRAs and qualified accounts are subject to the "means test" of CCP 714.115(e) that will leave most debtors uncomfortable in retirement.

California courts in the larger counties are organized so that special judges, known as "Commissioners" sit in special departments that do little more than hear collection matters. But the EJL is set up to require a minimal amount of court involvement in the first place, allowing court clerks (and sometimes even court reporters) to sign orders than in many states might require a full hearing before a district judge.

DEBT COLLECTION & RECOVERY IN CALIFORNIA

Debt Collection is the more difficult practice in California, mainly because so much of the burden is shifted to the "levying officer" (aka overworked local sheriff's department) to go out and grab assets. It is easy to get a Writ, but much more difficult to get a deputy serve it, confiscate the assets, warehouse the assets until sale, and then finally sell the assets off at auction.

The debtor who lets a California debt linger is a foolish debtor.

Because California's population is so large, and seemingly more litigious than elsewhere, there are probably more court opinions that interpret collection matters than any other state. Thus, in addition to the EJL and supporting statutes, there is a large body of case law to which litigants can turn to resolve certain issues.

Recover your judgment now!

I have read the Privacy Statement, agreement to receive Electronic Documents, and state-specific notices.