Is It Possible to Collect Out-of-State Judgments in California?

From time to time, we are asked if it is possible to collect out-of-state judgment in California. The question stems from the fact that a judgment debtor from another state has either moved to California or has assets there. Here is the good news: it is possible. You just need to file the correct paperwork with the correct court.

As experienced California judgment collectors, we can verify the fact that moving out-of-state does not guarantee a judgment debtor can avoid paying forever. There are ways to find debtors trying their best to hide. There are ways to find their assets as well.

Things to Know About California

Collecting judgments in California is governed by rules codified in state law. We will not bore you with the details. However, there are some things to know about collecting out-of-state judgments in the Golden State.

First and foremost, all out-of-state judgments entered in California courts are considered civil judgments. In other words, even a small claims case brought to California from another state is considered a civil case. All the rules for collecting civil judgments in California apply.

Next, the out-of-state judgment must be entered with the appropriate court. There are two options here:

  • County of Residence – If the judgment debtor in question has physically moved to California, the judgment is entered with the court in the county of their residence. You might file in Orange County court if the debtor has moved to Anaheim, for example.
  • Asset Location – If the out-of-state judgment is being brought to California because the debtor owns assets there, the judgment is entered with the court in the county in which those assets are located.

There may be an occasion on which a debtor has both moved to California and has assets in a county other than the one in which he lives. The out-of-state judgment could be entered in both counties.

Why the Right County Matters

At this point you might be wondering why California is so specific about filing an out-of-state judgment in the correct county. The answer is as simple as the fact that only the county sheriff has the authority to enforce judgments. Incidentally, California is not alone in this regard. Most states give the authority to enforce judgments to the county sheriff. Therefore, judgments need to be entered in the appropriate county in order to pursue enforcement efforts.

In terms of how judgment creditors would go about collecting, they would utilize the same strategies as they would in their own states, up to and including what is allowed by law. It is not possible for us to cite specific examples due to the fact that state laws differ.

Not the Easiest Chore

Pursuing a judgment in another state is certainly not the easiest chore. In fact, it is hard enough to collect when both creditor and debtor are in the same state. Taking things out-of-state only complicates matters. Perhaps this is why some debtors pick up and move after having judgments entered against them.

If you have a judgment case involving a debtor who either has moved or has assets in another state, Judgment Collectors can help. Not only do we pursue judgments in California, but we also work in Arizona, Texas, and eight other states. Our home base is in Utah.

It is possible to pursue out-of-state judgments in California. However, we encourage you to not go it alone. Contact Judgment Collectors and let us know what you’re working on. We will take a good look at your case and let you know what we can do to help.