Fortunately, the state of California provides a few different options for judgment creditors looking to collect on a judgment. In this article, we'll outline the three most common methods of judgment recovery in California: levies, liens, and garnishments. Luckily in California, the fee in executing a post judgment remedy are some of the lowest in the country. Also, California is a community property state, so the spouse may be pursued as well.
Method 1: Levies
A levy is a legal process whereby the sheriff or marshal seizes (i.e., takes possession of) the debtor's real or personal property in order to sell it and pay the creditor the amount of money specified in the judgment. The sheriff or marshal will usually notify the debtor before conducting a levy, but if he or she believes that notification would jeopardize the chances of successful recovery, he or she may conduct what's known as an "execution Levy." Execution levies are becoming increasingly common in cases where debtors have taken steps to hide their assets or otherwise make them difficult to locate.
Method 2: Liens
A lien is a legal claim against the debtor's property. Once a lien has been placed on the property, the debtor cannot sell or borrow against it without first paying off the amount specified in the judgment. There are two main types of liens that can be placed on a debtor's property: general liens and specific liens.
A general lien covers all of the debtor's property, both real and personal. Once a general lien has been placed on a debtor's property, any assets that are not exempt from execution (i.e., which can be seized by the sheriff or marshal) may be used to satisfy the debt owed to the creditor. Specific liens, on the other hand, can only be placed on specific pieces of property, such as houses or cars.
There are certain situations in which it may not be possible to place a lien on a debtor's property. For example, if the debtor owns his or her home jointly with someone else (such as a spouse), it may not be possible to place a lien on that home unless both owners are named as debtors in the judgment.
It should also be noted that liens expire after 10 years unless they are renewed by the creditor prior to that time.
Method 3: Garnishments
A garnishment is a legal process whereby money owed to the debtor by a third party (known as "the garnishee") is withheld and paid to the creditor instead. The most common type of garnishment is wage garnishment, whereby money is withheld from the debtor's paycheck and paid to the creditor. Other types of garnishments include bank account garnishments (where money is withheld from the debtor's bank account and paid to the creditor) and asset/property seizure (where physical assets owned by the debtor are seized by the sheriff or marshal and sold to satisfy the debt owed to the creditor).
These are just some ofthe many ways you can go about recovering a judgment in California. If you have any questions about how to proceed with your specific case, we recommend you speak with an attorney who specializes in judgment enforcement. And remember, if at first you don't succeed...you can always try again! Thanks for reading!