Judgment Debtor Hearing
You’ve won your case but can’t collect. How to make the judgment debtor appear in court so you can find assets and collect your money.
Judgment Debtor Hearing
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.
If you win your case, the money the court awards you is the Judgment. You are the Judgment Creditor. The person who owes you money is the Judgment Debtor. If you don’t know what assets the Debtor has, you can ask for a Judgment Debtor Hearing. At the hearing, you can ask questions about the debtor’s job, bank account, home, car, and other assets. For a list of questions to ask, print a Judgment Debtor Questionnaire to take with you to the hearing. This information helps you decide where to send the Sheriff to collect your money.
You can also examine a third party that has specific financial information about the Judgment Debtor’s finances. For example, a real estate broker would have information on commissions owed to a real estate agent working under his license. Here is a link to the EJ-125 Application and Order for Examination form.
Requesting a Judgment Debtor Hearing
- Fill out the form: SC-134 Order to Produce Statement of Assets and to Appear for Examination.
- File the form with the clerk’s office at the court where your case was heard.
- Pay the filing fee.
- The clerk will provide you with copies of the completed form with a hearing date. You must have the Sheriff or a Registered Process Server personally serve the form to the Judgment Debtor at least 10 days before the hearing,
- If you want the Judgment Debtor to bring documents to the hearing you should also serve them with an SC-107 subpoena. A subpoena is the only document you can serve yourself. If you don’t care to serve it yourself, you can have it served.
Information the Debtor should bring to court
You want the Judgment Debtor to bring financial information that will help you collect your money. Here are examples of what you should ask the Debtor to bring to court:
- Driver license
- Social Security Card
- Marriage certificate
- Name and address of employer
- Most recent paycheck receipts or stubs
- All bank account statements
- All real estate deeds for property owned by the Debtor
To order the Debtor to bring this information, you should subpoena the information from them.
Getting a Subpoena
An SC-107 Subpoena Duces Tecum orders the Debtor to bring financial information to court. To get a subpoena:
- Fill out the form: Subpoena for Personal Appearance and Production of Documents.
- File the form with the court clerk’s office. There is no fee.
- Serve the Debtor at least 10 days before the hearing.
If the Debtor lives far away
If the Debtor lives more than 150 miles away from the court where the judgment was entered, you must request a hearing at a court in the county where the Judgment Debtor lives. Contact a Small Claims Advisor at (800) 593-8222 to find out the procedure.
At the hearing, you question the Debtor about his job, bank account, home, car, and other assets. You can have an attorney represent you at the hearing if you wish. The hearing is not recorded, so be prepared to write down the information you get. You can also ask the Judge to have the Judgment Debtor empty their pockets and you can take any cash they brought with them to the hearing.
After the hearing
Use the information to have the Sheriff collect your judgment. If you did not get information that will help you collect your money, you can try again. You are allowed to ask for a Judgment Debtor hearing every 120 days.
If the Debtor does not come to court
If the Judgment Debtor fails to appear, you can ask the Judge to issue a bench warrant. A bench warrant orders the Judgment Debtor to contact the court to schedule a new hearing or the bench warrant will not be recalled by the court. You must pay the Sheriff a fee to issue the bench warrant.
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 7, 2020.