Execution of Judgment

Execution of judgment is an enforcement of its terms. If the judgment awards money enforcement means collection of the amount awarded to the plaintiff by means of judgment execution as judgment creditor from the defendant as judgment debtor. The creditor may take no action for 30 days from the notice of entry of the judgment in the case record. Under California Superior Court rules the debtor has 30 days from that date to file motions to alter, amend, or set aside the judgment or to appeal from it. After 30 days the creditor may levy or attach the debtor's known assets, levy or garnish the debtor's income from employment or other sources, or place liens on the debtor's real estate and personal property.

How To Collect Assets when Executing a Judgment

A creditor with reason to believe that the debtor has undisclosed assets that may satisfy all or part of the judgment may obtain discovery of information about them. If the judgment is by a federal district court, Rule 69, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, authorizes discovery by any means "provided in these rules or by the procedure of the state where the court is located." In California the Superior Court may compel the debtor's appearance for examination about assets, income, and property.

With sufficient information, the creditor then may levy or attach the debtor's wages and bank accounts. The creditor files a writ of execution, a standard form, with the clerk of the court describing the details of the judgment. To levy or garnish the debtor's employment income , the creditor also files an application for earnings withholding order, another standard form, for service by the county sheriff or a process server on the employer together with the writ of execution. The usual amount withheld for payment toward satisfaction of the judgment is 25 percent of net earnings.

The creditor may issue a writ of execution commanding banks to pay from the debtor's accounts as much money as available and necessary to satisfy the judgment. Or a writ of execution may command the sheriff to seize the debtor's personal property, sell it, and remit the proceeds to the creditor less fees and costs.

The creditor may be able to seize and sell the debtor's real property. This process is complicated and costly. An abstract of judgment, another standard form, places a lien on any land or building. The creditor need not know for certain that the judgment debtor owns property. The abstract places liens on all property in the name of the debtor. A common practice is to record an abstract lien in any county where the debtor resides or does business.

Only Legal Judgment Collection Allowed

The law protects the debtor from abusive or unfair judgment collection methods. Collection agents may not make misleading statements, harass the debtor, ask for more than basic information about the debtor from anyone else, or contact the debtor before 8:00 AM, after 9:00 PM, or at any inconvenient time or place.

The creditor has ten years to execute the judgment and can renew the judgment for ten more if unable to collect the full amount of the judgment award. Standard forms for renewal of judgment and notice of renewal must be filed before the first ten years elapse. The creditor cannot enforce the renewed judgment before service of copies of the application and notice by the sheriff or a process server on the debtor. The debtor has 30 days from the date of service to contest the renewal.

If the debtor pays the judgment in full, the creditor must file an acknowledgment of satisfaction of judgment. This filing may be by completion of the form on the reverse side of the notice of entry of judgment mailed by the court clerk to the parties. A creditor who files an abstract of judgment must file the form for acknowledgment of satisfaction of judgment indicating every county where the abstract is in effect.

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