Collecting Your Judgment
How to collect money awarded to you by the court.
Collecting Your Judgment
Watch our video on Collecting a Judgment from an Individual here. Court forms are available at California Courts – Forms. Select “Small Claims” from the pull down menu. Forms are also available at the Court Clerk’s office. Completed Sample Forms are available here. Starting September 2, 2021 all litigants in Small Claims Court can appear virtually or telephonically for FREE. Read the details from the court here.
If you win your case, the money the court awards you is called the judgment. You are the Judgment Creditor. The person who owes you money is the Judgment Debtor. The Judgment Debtor has 30 days from the mailing of the entry of judgment to pay you the money, or do one of the following:
- File an SC-220 request for time payments and the EJ-165 Financial Statement.
- File an SC-140 Appeal.
- If they did not appear, file an SC-135 Motion to Vacate Judgment.
How do I collect my money?
If the Judgment Debtor does not pay you within 30 days from the mailing of the entry of judgment, there are ways the Sheriff can help you collect your money. To collect money, you must first get an EJ-130 Writ of Execution. A Writ of Execution is an order from the court to the Sheriff that allows the Sheriff to collect money owed to you. You get a Writ of Execution at the court clerk’s office. Here are some ways the Sheriff can help collect your money:
- If you know where the Judgment Debtor banks, you can ask the Sheriff to collect money from their account (bank account levy).
- If you know where the Judgment Debtor works, the Sheriff can collect 25% of the debtor’s wages each pay period until your judgment is paid in full (wage garnishment).
- If the Judgment Debtor is a business and uses a cash register, you can instruct the Sheriff to do a Till Tap. This lets the Sheriff make a single trip to the business and take all cash and checks from the cash register.
- You can also request a Keeper. This lets the Sheriff stay at the business location for eight hours or more and collect all cash and checks received that day.
You must complete the Sheriff Instruction Sheet to let the Sheriff know what you want done. There are fees for all of these services.
How can I find out where the Judgment Debtor works or banks?
You can request a Judgment Debtor Hearing.
What else can I do to collect?
Here are three other ways you can put pressure on the Debtor to pay your judgment.
- Place a lien on property. If the Judgment Debtor owns real estate, you can place a lien on their property. If you do this, the Judgment Debtor will not be able to sell or refinance that property without paying you first. To do this, fill out an EJ-001 Abstract of Judgment form and take it to the clerk’s office. After the clerk stamps it, record it at the County Recorder’s Office in the county where the property is located.
- Suspend the debtor’s driver license. If your judgment involves an automobile accident, the Department of Motor Vehicles can suspend the Judgment Debtor’s driver license until payment is made. (DMV Forms DL-17 for a judgment less than a $1,000 or DL-30 for a judgment more than a $1,000)
- Place a lien on a business. If your judgment is against a business, you can record a lien with the Secretary of State’s office. To do this, fill out an EJ-185 Notice of Judgment Lien form. Serve a copy of this form on the Judgment Debtor by first-class mail and complete a Proof of Service form. Send the original form, a copy, and the Proof of Service to the Secretary of States office at:
Secretary of State P.O. Box 942835 Sacramento, CA 94235 Enclose a $10.00 check made out to the “Secretary of State”. The fee is $20 if the document is three pages or more.
Can I add collection costs and interest to my judgment?
Yes. You can add your collection costs plus 10% interest per year onto your judgment. To do this, you need to file the form called, MC-012 Memorandum of Costs After Judgment, Acknowledgment of Credit, and Declaration of Accrued Interest at the clerk’s office. You have two years from the date you paid to add collection costs to your judgment. You can add interest anytime prior to collection.
How long do I have to collect?
You have 10 years from the date the judgment was issued to collect your money. If you cannot collect within 10 years, you can renew the judgment for another ten years by filing the forms called EJ-190 Application For And Renewal of Judgment and EJ-195 Notice of Renewal of Judgment. You must file these forms with the clerk before the end of the 10-year period. Be sure to send a copy of each form to the Judgment Debtor and file a Proof of Service with the court.
Court forms are available at California Courts – Forms. Select “Small Claims” from the pull down menu. Forms are also available at the Court Clerk’s office. County of Los Angeles Department of Consumer and Business Affairs. Last change: August 26, 2021.