California is somewhat unique among the fifty states. Just in terms of its legal system, there are things in California law that you will not find anywhere else. We have spent the last several months emphasizing that very fact on our blog. Collecting judgments in California requires knowing what the law says. And for many of our California clients, it also means answering some frequently asked questions.
Questions are something we are used to. In our business, there are a lot of them. Below are the top four FAQs we hear in relation to California judgments:
1. How long is a California judgment good for?
Civil judgments in nearly every state are subject to statutes of limitation. California is no exception. In the Golden State, judgments are enforceable for 10 years. That means, from the date a judgment is entered against your debtor, you have 10 years to collect. If you fail to do so, you must either renew the judgment or let it expire.
Renewing usually isn’t difficult. Furthermore, renewal in California is for five years. We prefer to not let things go that long. Still, it is nice to know that renewal is available should it be necessary.
2. Do California courts enforce collection?
Legalese often creates confusion in the judgment collection arena. The idea of enforcement is a classic example. Courts legally enforce judgments, but that does not mean they enforce collection. Unfortunately, California courts will not intervene in the collection process except under exceedingly rare circumstances. Once a judgment is entered, collection becomes the responsibility of the creditor and its legal representatives.
3. Can I begin collection efforts on the day a judgment is entered?
Winning a judgment against a debtor gives you the legal ability to begin collection efforts. However, California law requires that creditors wait at least thirty days from the date a judgment is entered. This 30-day window gives debtors and their attorneys a chance to review the judgment and, should they choose to do so, file an appeal.
We recommend using that time to formulate a collection strategy. It is a good time to begin preparing legal documents, conducting research on debtor assets, finding out where the debtor works, and so forth. There is no reason the thirty days needs to be wasted.
4. Can California wages be garnished to pay outstanding judgments?
Wage garnishment is one tool creditors can utilize to collect outstanding judgments. California allows wage garnishment, but there are certain restrictions in place. For example, creditors are limited in terms of the amount they can garnish. California law limits them to the lesser of the following two options:
- 25% of the debtor’s disposable income, or
- 50% of the amount the debtor’s disposable income exceeds forty times the state minimum wage.
If that sounds complicated, it can be. California wage garnishment laws are yet another reason to let a professional collect on your judgment.
Collecting judgments in California requires knowing California law. If you don’t think you know the law well enough to collect on your own, we are here to help. Contact us so we can talk about your judgment.