Small Claims

After the Case

After the trial hearing, the judge will decide if the defendant owes the plaintiff anything. And, if the defendant counter-sued the plaintiff, if the plaintiff owes the defendant anything. The judge will decide the amounts.

Sometimes a request for one side to do something or to stop doing something was part of the claim (or counter-claim). The judge will make decision about the request. The judge will specific a time and date by when the losing side has to comply or pay a specific amount of money to the winning side.

The court has 90 days after the trial date to mail the Notice of Entry of Judgment (Form SC-130) to each side.

After the trial hearing is over, it still is not the end of the case.

See the Frequently Asked Questions - After a Judgment has Been Made:

After the Judgment: What to do if you won the case

After the trial hearing, the court clerk will mail the plaintiff and the defendant a Notice of Entry of Judgment (Form SC-130), which states that the small claims case has been decided – and how much money one side must pay the other. The court clerk will also include a blank form called Judgment Debtor’s Statement of Assets (Form SC-133).

  • The person who won the case is now called the
    “judgment creditor.”
  • The person lost the case is now called the
    “judgment debtor.”

The 30-Day Waiting Period

As the judgment creditor, you must wait at least 30 days from the date the court mails the Notice of Entry Judgment before trying to collect the judgment. This is because the judgment debtor has 30 days to do certain things, depending on whether he or she went to the trial hearing.

A. If the judgment debtor went to the hearing, he or she has 30 days from the date that the court mailed the Notice to:

  • Pay the debt
  • File an appeal of the judgment (Form SC-140), or
  • Complete and mail to you a Judgment Debtor’s Statement of Assets
    (Form SC-133).

B. If the judgment debtor did NOT go to the hearing, the court’s judgment is a “default judgment.”

  • If you served the debtor correctly, and the debtor had a good reason for not going to the hearing -- the judgment debtor has 30 days from the date that the court mailed the Notice to:
    • Pay the debt
    • File a motion to vacate (cancel) the judgment.
  • If you did NOT serve the judgment debtor correctly, he or she has 180 days from the date they knew, or should have known, that judgment was entered against them to file the motion to vacate (cancel) the judgment.

    NOTE: If you have already started to collect on the judgment when the judgment debtor files the motion to vacate, you must stop all collection efforts until the judge makes a decision about that motion.

After the 30-Day Waiting Period Has Passed

If the debtor pays the money right away:

As soon as you receive all of the money that the judge decided is owed to you, or the other party did something or stopped doing something, as the judge ordered, you have four (4) steps to take:

Step 1. Fill out the short form on the back of the Notice of Entry of Judgment (Form SC-130), called the “Acknowledgment of Satisfaction of Judgment.”

  • Make 2 copies of it – one copy for the debtor and one copy for your files.

Step 2. File the form with the court.

  • The court clerk will keep the original form and file-stamp the two copies.

Step 3. Serve a copy of the Acknowledgment of Satisfaction of Judgment (on the back of Form SC-130) on the judgment debtor.

Remember: you cannot do this yourself. Ask an adult who is 18 years or older and not involved in the case to serve the form for you.

  • Have the person who served the document fill in and sign a Proof of Service form.
    • If the service was done in person, have your server use Form POS-020
    • If the service was done by mail, have your server use Form POS-030
  • Make a copy of the Proof of Service and keep it in a safe place.

Step 4. File the original Proof of Service (either the POS-020 or POS-030) at the court.

If the debtor does NOT PAY the money right away, the court will NOT collect the money or enforce the judgment for you.

Learn what you can do to collect your debt.

What if the judgment debtor has not paid you the judgment debt when it is due or made arrangements to pay you over time? You have a number of ways to collect AFTER the 30-day waiting period is over.

TIPS: As you go through this process:

  • Continue to try to get the debtor to pay voluntarily
  • Be courteous
  • Be organized

If you DO NOT KNOW the debtor’s assets, you can:

  • Ask for his or her Statement of Assets
  • Ask the court to order a Debtor’s Examination at Court
  • Ask the court to order a “Third Party” Examination

NOTE 1: There are Limits on Use of Examinations ordered by the court. There are ways to locate the debtor, if you can’t find him or her.

NOTE 2: The debtor has the right to ask the court to protect some types of wages or property from being used to pay a judgment debt. You have the right to object to the debtor’s request for an exemption. Here's how to:

  • Object to Claim of Exemptions by the Debtor
  • Object to Claim of Exemptions of Wages by Debtor
  • Object to Claim of Exemptions - NON-Wages

If you DO KNOW the debtor’s assets and the debtor is an individual, sole proprietor, or general partner, you can:

  • Collect from the debtor’s wages if he or she is employed
  • Collect from the wages of the debtor’s spouse or registered domestic partner
  • Collect from the debtor’s money in accounts or property located in a safe-deposit box at a bank
  • Put a lien on the debtor’s real property located anywhere in California
  • Put a lien on the debtor’s personal property located anywhere in California
  • Ask the DMV to suspend debtor’s license if the judgment has to do with a vehicle accident

If you DO KNOW the debtor’s assets and the debtor is a business:

  • How to collect from a business

Other court processes you may want to know:

  • How to get a Writ of Execution
  • How to End a Writ of Execution
  • How to get an Abstract of Judgment
  • How to Renew a Real Property Lien
  • How to Renew a Personal Property Lien
  • How to Remove a Lien
  • How to Renew the Judgment
  • How to Get Debtor to Pay the Costs to Collect the Judgment
  • What to do with a Partial Payment of the Judgment
  • What to do when the Judgment is Paid in Full

The general process for collecting a judgment from a debtor is similar throughout California. There may be some differences from one county to another. To find out what you must do in your county, contact the Small Claims Advisor.

The easiest way to collect is to encourage the debtor to agree pay you.

Here are four things you can do:

1. Write a letter.
Write a letter to the debtor. You can write this letter on your own. (Look at a sample letter, or use a computer program to write your letter.)

Reasons that can encourage him or her to pay you the judgment include:

  • If the debtor does not pay you, you can get 10% interest per year from the date the judgment was ordered until the debtor pays the entire judgment. You can also be reimbursed any reasonable and necessary costs of collection,
  • Judgments are enforceable for 10 years and are renewable for another 10 years and then renewable after that. For more information, read "How much time does the creditor have to collect the judgment?"
  • Credit reporting agencies will know the debtor hasn't paid the judgment because the court's "Judgment Roll" is a public document. The sooner the debtor pays you, the better it may be for the debtor’s credit report.
  • If the judgment debtor does not pay, you, the judgment creditor, can ask for:
    • A wage garnishment against the debtor, or the debtor's spouse, or domestic partner;
    • A levy on the debtor's bank account, credit union account, and/or safe deposit box;
    • Liens on real property or personal property; and
    • Possibly, the suspension of the debtor's real estate, contractor's, or driver's license.

2. Help the debtor find assets to pay the judgment.
Sometimes debtors honestly believe they don't have any way to pay the judgment debt. You might encourage your debtor to consider using one or more of the following sources to pay the amount they owe:

  • Borrow against a retirement account (401(k)),
  • Get a credit card cash advance,
  • Use their income tax refund,
  • Take a personal loan.

3. Be flexible about payment terms.
Sometimes, being flexible will pay off. Here are some ideas:

  • Accept payments,
  • Accept less than what the court ordered,
  • Let the debtor pay you with property or work instead of money.

4. Accept installment payments.
If you decide to accept installment payments, write a letter to the debtor. Explain how you expect the judgment to be paid. Include payment of interest and costs, if any. Here is sample letter that asks for installment payments.

Here are some rules for collecting the judgment debt:

  • Call at a reasonable time,
  • Identify yourself,
  • Use professional language when you speak and write,
  • Don't use obscene language, call collect, or harass the debtor,
  • Don't pretend to be a lawyer, credit reporting agency, or government worker,
  • Don't threaten to hurt the debtor or the debtor's family, property, or reputation,
  • Don't suggest the debtor will face criminal charges (if no crime was committed),
  • Don't suggest that the debtor's property will be taken (unless the law permits it and you intend to do this),
  • Don't suggest that you'll be turning the debt over to a collection agency (unless you intend to do so).

If you don't follow these rules, the debtor could sue you for:

  • Misuse or abuse of process,
  • Invasion of privacy,
  • Defamation,
  • Interference with potential economic relations or employment relations.

First, organize all of the paperwork leading up to your trial and keep it in a safe place. Then, make a new file on collecting the judgment.

In your new file for judgment collection, consider including:

  • A copy of the judgment.
    Pay special attention to the date the court entered the judgment (not the date you received it in the mail) as you may be able to get interest on the money owed to you from this date until the debt is fully paid. (Learn about computing interest on the unpaid portion of the judgment.)
  • The judgment debtor's contact information – at home and at work. Keep track of changes in the debtor’s contact information.
  • Information on the judgment debtor's property and where it is located.
  • The dates of any partial payments made by the debtor.
    If the debtor makes a partial payment by check, make a photocopy of the check – front and back - and be sure to write down:
    • How much was paid (you can only charge interest on unpaid amounts),
    • The location of the bank branch, and
    • The account number.
  • A list of all the types of collection efforts you made.
    Keep notes on who, when and where you tried to collect the money judgment, and when and why each effort ended.
  • A copy of each document used to collect the payment.
    (For example, the writ of execution, wage garnishment, bank levy, etc.)
  • Because judgments are good for 10 years, include a reminder to renew your judgment at least 6 months before it is time to do so. If the judgment is renewed, keep a copy of the court order extending the judgment.
  • A list of all your collection expenses. (Keep your receipts.)
  • Many collection expenses can be reimbursed.

Do anything else that will help you to stay organized. Keep in mind that even if you are unable to collect the judgment right now because the debtor doesn’t have any money, you may be able to collect in the future if he or she gets money or sells property.

A debtor who doesn't voluntarily pay the judgment within 30 days of when the Notice of Entry of Judgment was mailed (and who has not appealed the case or filed a motion to vacate the judgment) must fill out a Judgment Debtor's Statement of Assets (Form SC-133) and send it to you.
(See California Code of Civil Procedure, Section 116.830)

This will give you information about the judgment debtor’s:

  • Employment,
  • Cash and bank deposits,
  • Property (including real estate),
  • Personal Property,
  • And other information.

Some debtors do not fill out and deliver the SC-133 form. If this happens, you should:

  1. Print out a copy of the Form SC-133,
  2. Mail it to the judgment debtor, and
  3. Ask that he or she complete it and return it to you immediately.

If the debtor still doesn’t send you the information you need to collect the judgment, you may ask the court to order the debtor back to court for you to do a debtor's examination.

Learn how to request a debtor’s examination.

A debtor has 30 days to pay the judgment after the Notice of Entry of Judgment is mailed. Instead of paying, he or she can send a completed Judgment Debtor's Statement of Assets (Form SC-133) to the judgment creditor. This must be done unless the debtor has appealed the case or filed a motion to vacate the judgment.

If the debtor has not given you the information you need to collect your debt, you may ask the court to order a Debtor's Examination. This is often called an “OEX,” which is short for an “Order of Examination.” This is a special hearing where you ask the debtor questions.

During this hearing, the debtor is under oath. You can ask the debtor specific questions about their assets, like:

  • Whether or not he or she has a job,
  • What type of property he or she owns,
  • Where property is located.

See more sample Questions to Ask the Debtor.

NOTE: There are several limits on your use of court-ordered examinations.

To Ask the Court to Schedule a Debtor’s Examination (OEX)

Step 1. Fill out an:

  • Application for Order to Produce Statement of Assets and to Appear for Examination (Form SC-134)

NOTE: If you want the judgment debtor to bring documents to the examination hearing, you must also fill out a Small Claims Subpoena and Declaration (Form SC-107). Examples of documents listed on the Subpoena include:

  • Pay stubs
  • Bank statements
  • Ownership certificates for vehicles
  • Deeds to real estate

Make at least 2 copies of the Application for Order to Produce Statements form (and if used, the Small Claims Subpoena and Declaration form.)

Step 2. File the form(s) at court, and pay the court’s filing fee.
After you file the form(s), the clerk will set a hearing date, note it on the form, and return two copies of the form to you.

Step 3. Serve the form(s).
Have a copy of the form(s) AND a blank copy of the Judgment Debtor’s Statement of Assets (Form SC-133) personally served on the judgment debtor at least 10 calendar days before the hearing.

You cannot serve the forms yourself. Ask someone who is over 18 years old and not involved in the case, a sheriff, marshal, or registered process server to serve your papers.

NOTE: If you are asking the court to issue a Subpoena, you must make sure that this form is served in person 15 days before the OEX hearing.

Have your server fill out a Proof of Personal Service – Civil (Form POS-020) for the Application, and the back of the Small Claims Subpoena, if applicable, and give the original copies to you.

If the Order for Examination is served on a third party, you must immediately pay that person the cost of round trip travel from his or her home to the place of the examination. The fee is the same for witnesses when they are legally required to attend civil proceedings in the court. To learn about witness fees, click here.

Step 4. File the Proof(s) of Service with the court at least 5 calendars days before the Examination hearing.

NOTE: Serving the Order of Examination on the debtor creates a lien on his or her personal property. The lien continues for one year from the order date unless extended or ended sooner by the court.

Attending the OEX Hearing

  • You, the judgment creditor, must attend the OEX hearing.
  • If the debtor does not attend the hearing and has not paid the judgment, you may ask the court to issue a bench warrant for his or her arrest. He or she may also be held in contempt of court. The court usually gives the debtor another chance to appear before issuing a bench warrant.

If you learn during the OEX that a third person has or controls property belonging to the judgment debtor, you may ask the court to order that third person to appear for examination.

Once you have the information you need about the debtor’s assets, you can pursue your legal rights to enforce your judgment.

Sometimes, another person, business, or organization has or controls money or property belonging to the judgment debtor. You can ask the court to order this person or business to attend a hearing to answer questions about the money or property. This is called a “Third Person” Examination.

  • The “third person” could be the debtor’s relative, employer, or friend. The debtor’s spouse or domestic partner is not a third person.
  • The third person examination can also be used to include a person or business that owes the judgment debtor more than $250.

Examination hearings are often held somewhere other than a courtroom, without the judge or court commissioner. Once the hearing begins, the third party will be put under oath. In most counties you will ask the questions yourself.

NOTE: There are several limits on your use of court-ordered examinations.

To Ask the Court to Schedule an Appearance and Examination of a Third Party

Step 1. Get and fill out an:

NOTE 1: You must attach an affidavit to the form which includes the facts you know about the property, and that the “Third Party” has it, or “owns” it for the judgment debtor.

NOTE 2: If you want the “Third Party” to bring documents to the examination hearing, you must also fill out and file a:

  • Small Claims Subpoena and Declaration (Form SC-107)

Documents that you list on the Subpoena for the “Third Person” to bring to the Examination hearing might include:

  • Bank account statements
  • Ownership certificates for vehicles
  • Deeds to real estate

Make 3 copies of the Application and, if used, the Small Claims Subpoena form.

Step 2. File the form(s) at court, and pay the court’s filing fee.
After you file the Application, the clerk will set a hearing date. He or she will note the hearing date on the form, and return the three copies of the form to you.

Step 3. Serve the form(s).
Have a copy of the Application (and Small Claims Subpoena, if applicable)
personally served on the third person, AND on the judgment debtor at least 10 calendar days before the date of the hearing.

You cannot serve the forms yourself. The server should be someone who is over 18 years old and not involved in the case, a sheriff, marshal, or registered process server.

NOTE: If you are asking the court to issue a Subpoena, you must make sure that this form is served in person 15 days before the Order of Examination hearing.

Have your server fill out a Proof of Personal Service – Civil (Form POS-020) for the Application, and the back of the Small Claims Subpoena, if applicable, and give the original copies to you.

As soon as the Order for Examination is served on the third party, you must pay that person the cost of round trip travel from his or her home to the place of the examination. The fee is the same as the one for witnesses who are legally required to attend civil proceedings in court. Learn about witness fees.

Step 4. File the Proof(s) of Service form(s).
File one Proof of Service (Form POS-020) and the back of the Small Claims Subpoena, if used, with the court for each person that was served. These must be filed at least 5 calendar days before the Examination hearing.

NOTE: Once the third person has been served, the Third Party Examination order creates a lien on the debtor’s property that they have or control, and on any debt the third person owes to the judgment debtor. The lien continues for one year from the date of the order unless extended, or ended sooner by the court.

Attending the Debtors Examination Hearing

  • You, the judgment creditor, must attend the Examination hearing.
  • The “third party” must attend the hearing. If the “third party” doesn’t attend -- and the debtor has not paid the judgment, postjudgment costs and interest -- you may ask the court to issue a bench warrant for the “third party’s” arrest, and he or she may be held in contempt of court.

Once you have the information about the debtor’s assets, you can pursue your legal rights to enforce your judgment.

There are limits on your use of court-ordered examinations.

  1. You cannot examine the judgment debtor more than once every 120 days.
  2. You cannot make the judgment debtor or a third person to travel more than 150 miles from where they live or work for the examination.

The court can sometimes make exceptions to these rules, but arranging for this can be difficult.

Before you decide to request an exception, you may want to speak with an attorney who has experience in this area of the law.

The debtor has the right to ask the court to protect some types of wages or property from being used to pay a judgment debt. Usually, this is because it is considered a “necessity of life.”

The judgment creditor has the right to object to the debtor’s request for an exemption. You will find more information about what exemptions are allowed below:

(Note: the second page of this form applies to debtors who have filed for bankruptcy).

The court will hold a hearing to decide whether or not to allow the debtor’s claim of exemption. Find out what creditors must do if they object to the debtor’s claim of exemption:

Judgment creditors can ask the court to take part of a debtor’s wages to pay a judgment debt. This is called wage garnishment.

The debtor has the right to ask the court to exempt (protect) some, if not all, of his or her wages from being taken to pay the judgment. (See California Code of Civil Procedure, Sections 704.070 to 704.170 and Sections 706.050 and 706.051)

Information about what can be exempted is on the Exemptions from the Enforcement of Judgments (Form EJ-155).

NOTE: Worker’s compensation, unemployment, pension, social security, welfare, or insurance payments are protected and cannot be taken to satisfy a judgment.

As the judgment creditor, you may object to the debtor’s request for an exemption if you think that the amount the debtor has asked to be exempt is too much. The court will hold a hearing to decide whether or not to allow the debtor’s claim of exemption.

If you are not sure which forms to use, talk with your Small Claims Advisor or a lawyer.

Find local court forms you may need at your county's court website.

To Object to Claim of Exemptions of Wages by Debtor

Step 1. Get and fill out two forms:

  • Notice of Opposition to Claim of Exemption (Wage Garnishment) (Form WG-009)
  • Notice of Hearing on Claim of Exemption (Form WG-010/EJ-175)

    A. Go to or call the court to pick a date for the hearing to oppose the debtor’s exemption. You must pick a date no later than 30 calendar days after the date you are filing the filled out forms WG-009 and WG-010/EJ-175.

    B. Write in the time, place and date of the exemption hearing on Form WG-010, in the box under number 2, in letter a.

    C. Make 4 copies of each form.

Step 2. File forms WG-009 and WG-010/EJ-175.

A. File these forms with the court clerk:

  • a copy of the Notice of Opposition to Claim of Exemption (Form WG-009),
  • the original of the Notice of Hearing on Claim of Exemption, Form WG-010/EJ-175, page 1 only.

B. File these forms with the levying officer:

  • the original of Notice of Opposition to Claim of Exemption (Form WG-009),
  • a copy of Notice of Hearing on Claim of Exemption, (Form WG-010/EJ-175.)

NOTE: You have only 10 days from the date that the levying officer mailed the Notice of Filing of Claim of Exemption (Wage Garnishment), Form WG-008, to you to file your opposition with the court.

Step 3. Serve copies of both forms on the debtor. This can be done:

  • In person - at least 21 calendar days before the hearing date.
  • By mail – at least 26 calendar days before the hearing date.
  • By fax, express mail or an overnight delivery method– at least 23 calendar days before the hearing date.

Have your server fill out the Proof of Service form that is on the back of Form WG-010/EJ-175. Make a copy of it for your files.

Step 4. File your Proof of Service with the court at least 5 days before the court hearing.

Step 5. Attend the hearing during which the court will decide whether or not to allow the debtor’s claim of exemption on his or her wages.

The debtor has the right to ask the court to protect some types of property from being used to pay a judgment debt. Usually, this is because it is considered a “necessity of life.”

The judgment creditor has the right to object to the debtor’s request for an exemption. You will find more information about what exemptions are allowed below:

Note: the second page of this form applies to debtors who have filed for bankruptcy.

The court will hold a hearing to decide whether or not to allow the debtor’s claim of exemption. The information below tells judgment creditors what they have to do if they do not agree with the exemptions the debtor claims.

If you are not sure which forms to use, talk with your Small Claims Advisor or a lawyer.

Find local court forms you may need at your county's court website.

How To Object to Debtor’s Claim of Exemptions (NOT a wage garnishment)

Step 1. Get and fill out two forms:

  • Notice of Opposition to the Claim of Exemption (Form EJ-170)
  • Notice of Hearing on Claim of Exemption (Form WG-010/EJ-175)

Make 4 copies of each form.

Step 2. File these forms with the court clerk.

  • Once the forms are filed, the court clerk will set a hearing date and write it on Form WG-010/EJ-175.

    NOTE: You have only 10 days from the date that the levying officer mailed the Claim of Exemption (Form EJ-160) to you to file your opposition with the court.

Step 3. Serve copies of both forms as follows:

  • the levying officer (usually a sheriff).
  • the judgment debtor (at least 10 days before the hearing.)

    Have your server fill out the Proof of Service (Form POS-020). Make a copy of it for your files.

Step 4. File your Proof of Service with the court at least 5 days before the hearing.

Step 5. Attend the hearing during which the court will decide whether or not to allow the debtor’s claim of exemption.

If you need to find out how to contact the debtor, but do not already have this information, you might try some or all of the strategies listed below:

  • Use the Internet and its search tools, including white pages, reverse look-up, etc.
  • Check with the county assessor to see if the debtor, debtor's spouse, or the debtor's domestic partner owns real property. Some county assessors will confirm if a debtor owns real property over the phone. Find a local tax assessor.
  • Search the county clerk's records to find out if the debtor has a fictitious business name statement on file with an address.
  • Check with the court to see if there are any other lawsuits filed against the debtor, the debtor's spouse, or the debtor's domestic partner and see if an address is listed in that file.

You may ask the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to suspend the debtor’s license in certain cases. The judgment must be because of a car accident and the debtor has not paid you within 30 days of the final judgment.

If you have a judgment for $750 or less in a car accident case

Step 1. Fill out a:

  • Certificate of Facts re Unsatisfied Judgment (Form DL-17)

Step 2. Mail the Form DL-17 with a certified copy of the court’s judgment and a fee of $20.00 to the DMV.

The debtor will get a copy of the Form DL-17 from the DMV. Then, he or she will have 20 days to pay you. If the debtor doesn’t pay you, their driver’s license may be suspended for up to 90 days.

If your judgment is for more than $750, or you were physically hurt:

Step 1. Fill out a:

  • Certificate of Facts re Unsatisfied Judgment (Form DL-30)

Step 2. Mail the Form DL-30 with a certified copy of the court’s judgment and a fee of $20.00 to the DMV.

The debtor will get a copy of the Form DL-30 from the DMV. Then, he or she will have 20 days to pay you. If the debtor doesn’t pay you, their license may be suspended for up to 6 years.

Address for California’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV):

Department of Motor Vehicles
Attention: Civil Judgment
P. O. Box 942884
Sacramento, CA 94284-0884

For more information go to the Department of Motor Vehicle’s website.

If the judgment debtor has not paid the judgment debt when it is due, or made arrangements to pay it over time, California law gives you, the judgment creditor, the right to ask the court to give you a “Writ of Execution.”

A “Writ of Execution” is a court order giving the sheriff (or other “levying officer”) the power to seize the judgment debtor’s property in order to pay his or her judgment debt.

  • The Writ tells the court what property you want to be collected. You have to describe the property. (The sheriff may seize property such as cash, or may seize an item to sell.)
  • Some or all of the cash and property may be exempt.
  • The clerk may only issue a Writ to you if 30 days have passed since the court mailed the Notice of Entry of Judgment (Form SC-130) to you and the judgment debtor.

You, the judgment creditor, will need a Writ of Execution in order to:

To get a Writ of Execution

Step 1. Ask a court clerk to issue a Writ of Execution (Form EJ-130) for you.

Step 2. Make at least 3 copies of the Writ that has the court stamp on it. Keep one set for your own file.

Step 3. Hire a Registered Process Server (RPS).

NOTE 1: You may not give the Sheriff’s Office (or other levying agency) the collection documents directly; you must hire a Registered Process Server (RPS) -- unless you qualify for a fee waiver.

NOTE 2: The cost of a Registered Process Server (RPS) will vary from county to county. To find out about costs in your area, look in the yellow pages of your telephone book under "Process Servers," look on the Internet, or contact your local Bar Association for referrals. Then, call several Process Servers in your area and ask them about their costs

Step 4. Give the Registered Process Server:

  • 2 sets of the Writ, and several other documents.
  • A check to cover the fee that the levying agency in your county will charge. (You will need to contact the appropriate levying agency to find out the amount of money it requires.)

NOTE : The Sheriff’s Office’s (or other levying agency’s) fees may be expensive if property is being sold. You may spend more on the fees than the property is worth - especially if an exemption applies.

The Registered Process Server will then open a file with the Sheriff’s Office (or whatever other levying agency is appropriate in your county).

  • This file will include the Writ of Execution, but there may be other forms needed as well. Contact the levying agency ahead of time to find out what that office requires.

Generally, the court will only issue 1 Writ to you every 180 days. However, the clerk may issue another Writ if the last Writ is:

  • recalled by you,
  • returned by the Sheriff (or other levying officer), or
  • only partly paid by the debtor.

Learn the steps to obtain a Writ of Execution.

A Writ of Execution will end automatically after 6 months. If you are paid before 6 months is up, you must end the Writ of Execution.

To end the Writ of Execution, write a letter to the Sheriff’s Department asking it to “release” or “recall” the Writ.

In your letter, include the:

  • Case number;
  • Sheriff's file number;
  • Name of the Debtor(s);
  • Name and address of the institution withholding the property; and,
  • Date for the release of the Writ.

If the judgment debtor has not paid the judgment debt when it is due, or made arrangements to pay it over time, California law gives the judgment creditor the right to have the money taken out of the debtor’s wages. This is called “wage garnishment.”
(See California Code of Civil Procedure, Sections 706.010 through 706.154)

NOTE: The federal government limits how much you can garnish from a debtor employee’s wages to either 25% or 30 times the minimum wage for the work week, whichever is less.
(See the Federal Wage Garnishment Law, United States Code 15 U.S.C. 1671)

The general process for collecting a judgment from a debtor’s wages is similar throughout California, but there may be some differences from one county to another. For example, in many counties the Sheriff is the most commonly-used levying officer, while in other counties, someone else (like a registered process server) might fill that role. To find out what you must do in your county, contact the Small Claims Advisor.

To collect from the debtor’s wages

Step 1. Get a Writ of Execution (Form EJ-130) issued by the court clerk.
(Learn how to get a Writ issued.)

AND fill out, file, and pay the filing fees for both of these forms:

  • Application for Earnings Withholding Order (Form WG-001)
  • Earnings Withholding Order (Form WG-002)

The court clerk will stamp all three forms and give the originals back to you.

Step 2. Make at least 3 copies of the three forms that have the court stamp on them. Keep one set for your own file.

Step 3. Hire a Registered Process Server (RPS) and give them:

  • 2 sets of the forms that have the court stamp on them, and
  • a check to cover the fee for garnishing the debtor’s wages that the levying agency in your county will charge. (You will need to contact the appropriate levying agency to find out the amount of money it requires.)

NOTE: If you cannot afford to pay these fees, you can ask the court for a fee waiver. (In this case, skip hiring a Registered Process Server and go directly to the office of the levying agency with all of our paperwork, including the ordered fee waiver.)

The Registered Process Server will then open a file with the Sheriff’s Office (or whatever other levying agency is appropriate in your county).

  • This file will include both the Writ of Execution and the Earnings Withholding Order, but there may be other forms needed as well. Contact the levying officer ahead of time to find out what that office requires.

Once the Registered Process Server has filed the documents with the levying agency, he or she will serve the Earnings Withholding Order on the debtor’s employer.

The Registered Process Server then has 5 days to file the original Writ of Execution and Proof of Service (on the employer) with the levying office.

The levying office will collect (receive) the wages from the employer, and send the money to you. The garnishment stays in place until you are fully paid or the debtor leaves the job.

NOTE: Sometimes the employer does not withhold the money from the debtor’s wages. If this happens, the employer is violating the court order. You may ask the court to hold the employer in contempt.

After the debt has been paid - you must remove the Wage Garnishment.

When the wage garnishment is fully paid you MUST end the Writ of Execution. To do this, write a letter to the Sheriff’s department (or other levying officer) and ask them to release (or recall) the garnishment. Your letter should include the:

  • Court case number
  • Sheriff’s (or other levying officer’s) file number (if this is different from the court case number)
  • Name of the judgment debtor (as written on the garnishment order)
  • Name of the debtor’s employer
  • Date when the garnishment should end.

IMPORTANT: When the entire judgment debt has been paid, you must file an Acknowledgment of Satisfaction of Judgment. See the section on Satisfaction of Judgment.

The judgment creditor can collect money from ("garnish") the wages of the debtor’s spouse or partner if:

  • the judgment debtor has not paid the judgment debt AND
  • the debtor hasn't made arrangements to pay it over time AND
  • the debtor does not have wages for you to garnish.

You have to file a motion with the court to allow you to collect your judgment from the spouse or registered domestic partner if he or she was not a defendant in your case. You will have to go to court for a hearing to explain why you need to garnish this person’s wages.

To do this, you must follow each of the steps listed below:

Step 1. Fill out:

  • Request for Court Order and Answer (Form SC-105)
  • Order on Request for Court Order and Answer (Form SC-105A)

NOTE: You must write on the form that you are asking the court to allow you to garnish the wages of the spouse or registered domestic partner.

Step 2. Make 2 copies of the completed forms.

Step 3. File the forms at the court and pay the court’s filing fee.

  • The court clerk will stamp the two forms and return a copy of each to you.
  • A hearing date, time and place will be written by a court clerk on the Order on Request for Court Order and Answer (Form SC-105A).
  • The court clerk will mail a copy of the form with the date of the hearing to you and to the debtor’s spouse or registered domestic partner.

Step 4. Attend the hearing and explain to the judge why you need to collect from the wages of the debtor’s spouse or registered domestic partner.

If the court grants your motion (request), follow the same procedure used for collecting the debtor’s wages.

If the judgment debtor has not paid the judgment debt when it is due, or made arrangements to pay it over time, California law gives the judgment creditor the right to have the money taken out of the debtor’s bank or credit union account, safety deposit box etc., and sent to you. The legal process for taking this money is called a “levy”.
(See California Code of Civil Procedure, Sections 699.080, 700.140 and 700.160)

The general process for collecting a judgment from a debtor’s bank account or safety deposit box is similar throughout California, but there may be some differences from one county to another. For example, in many counties the Sheriff is the most commonly-used levying officer, while in other counties, someone else (like a registered process server) might fill that role.

To collect from the debtor’s bank account or safety deposit box:

Step 1. Get a Writ of Execution (Form EJ-130) issued by the court clerk.
(To learn how to get a writ issued, click here.)

NOTE: Once you have filed a Writ of Execution on the judgment debtor’s property, he or she may file a Claim of Exemption (Form EJ-160) on the property. These are assets that California law make exempt from being used to pay court judgments. If a judge approves the exemption, you will not be able to collect on that specific property.

AND, at the same time, fill out, file, and pay the filing fee for:

  • Notice of Levy (Enforcement of Judgment) (Form EJ-150)

The court clerk will stamp the two forms and give the originals back to you.

Step 2. Make at least 3 copies of both forms that have the court stamp on them. Keep one set for your own file.

Step 3. Write a letter of instructions to the levying officer (often the County Sheriff) that explains what you want done. It should include:

  • The name and address of the judgment debtor;
  • The name and address of the branch of the bank where the debtor’s account is (Usually, you do not need to have a bank account number to do this. You only need to know the branch where the account is maintained, or where the safe deposit box is located.);
  • Your name, address and contact information so the money can be sent to you.
  • The date you wrote the letter, and your signature.

Step 4. Hire a Registered Process Server (RPS) and give them:

  • The letter of instructions to the levying officer,
  • 2 sets of the forms that have the court stamp on them, and
  • a check to cover the fee for levying the debtor’s bank account that the levying agency in your county will charge. (You will need to contact the appropriate levying agency to find out the amount or money it requires.)

NOTE: If you cannot afford to pay the levy fees, you can ask the court for a fee waiver.

The Registered Process Server will then open a file with the Sheriff’s Office (or other levying officer.)

  • This file will include the Writ of Execution, the Notice of Levy, your letter of instructions, and proof of your payment for the levy fees.

Once the Registered Process Server has filed the documents with the levying agency, he or she can serve the levy on the bank.

After serving the levy on the bank, the Registered Process Server has 5 days to file the original Writ of Execution and Proof of Service (on the bank) with the levying office.

The bank will notify the judgment debtor, and then freeze funds in the debtor’s account for 10 days.

NOTE: The financial institution may not be able to release the money to the sheriff because, for example, the money is part of child support or disability funds. If this is the case, the financial institution must prepare a Memorandum of Garnishee, Form EJ-152, and file it with the court. This will explain why the funds cannot be released. You will be given a copy.

If no one objects and the debtor claims no exemption, the bank will then release the funds to the sheriff (or other levying officer), who will contact you and release the funds to you.

The sheriff will return the Writ to the court with an accounting of all action taken.

IMPORTANT: When the entire judgment debt has been paid, you must file an Acknowledgment of Satisfaction of Judgment form with the court. See the section on Satisfaction of Judgment.

An “Abstract of Judgment” is a summary of the court’s final decision in this case. It can be used as a lien if it is filed with the county recorder.

To get an Abstract of Judgment

Step 1. Get and fill out an:

  • Abstract of Judgment-Civil and Small Claims (Form EJ-001)
    There will be a fee.

Step 2. File form EJ-001 with the court clerk.

The court clerk will stamp the Abstract form and give the original back to you.

Make at least 3 copies of the Abstract that has the court stamp on it. Keep one set for your own file.

You will need an Abstract of Judgment to

If the judgment debtor has not paid the judgment debt when it is due, or made arrangements to pay it over time, California law gives the judgment creditor the right to put a lien on the debtor’s real property (home or other real estate). With a lien you will not get paid automatically, but because liens are paid first, you will get your money and interest if the debtor tries to refinance or sell the property. (See California Code of Civil Procedure, Sections 697.310 through 697.410)

  • You may put a lien on the debtor’s real property located in any county in California.
  • Only one lien is necessary for all of the property located in one county. Find any county recorder’s office in the state.
  • The lien is good for 10 years (or as long as the judgment is valid).

To put a lien on the debtor’s real property

Step 1. Get an Abstract of Judgment – Civil (Form EJ-001) issued by a court clerk.

Learn how to get an Abstract issued. There will be a fee.

Step 2. Make 2 copies of the Abstract for your file.

Step 3. Take or mail the original Abstract of Judgment to the County Recorder's office in the county where you believe the judgment debtor owns real property. There will be a recording fee.

NOTE: Some county assessors (government tax collector’s office for any county) will tell you if a judgment debtor owns real property in their county over the phone. Find any county assessors’ office in California.

You will be paid when the judgment debtor is refinancing or selling the property.

IMPORTANT: When you are fully paid you must remove the lien and file an Acknowledgment of Satisfaction of Judgment (Form EJ-100) with the court.
See the section on Satisfaction of Judgment.

To learn how to remove a lien see the section on How to Remove a Lien.

A lien on a judgment debtor’s real property (home or other real estate) is put in place when a certified copy of the court’s Abstract of Judgment (Form EJ-001) is filed with the Office of the County Recorder where the property is located.

  • Abstracts of Judgment end after 10 years. Therefore, the lien ends in 10 years.
  • However, the judgment may be renewed for another 10 years, and then is renewable after that.
  • Once the judgment is renewed, the Notice of Renewal of Judgment (Form EJ-195) can be used to renew the lien.

TIP: Renew the judgment at least six (6) months before the 10 years run out.

To Renew the Judgment -- and then Renew the Lien

Step 1. Get and fill out 2 forms:

  • Application for and Renewal of Judgment (Form EJ-190)
  • Notice of Renewal of Judgment (Form EJ-195)

Make at least 2 copies of these forms.

Step 2. File the 2 forms at court and pay the court’s filing fee.

The court clerk will:

  • Keep the original Application for and Renewal of Judgment (Form EJ-190) and return the copies to you.
  • Complete and return to you the original Notice of Renewal of Judgment (Form EJ-195) plus the copies.

Step 3. Ask the clerk for as many certified copies of the Notice of Renewal of Judgment (Form EJ-195) as you need to renew in each county where you placed a lien.

Step 4. Record a certified copy of the Notice of Renewal of Judgment (Form EJ-195) with each County Recorder’s office where you recorded the Abstract of Judgment (lien). Pay the County Recorder’s office’s fee.

IMPORTANT: When you are fully paid you must remove the lien and file a Satisfaction of Judgment (Form EJ-100) with the court. See the section on Satisfaction of Judgment.

To learn how to remove liens see the section on How to a Remove Lien.

If the judgment debtor has not paid the judgment debt when it is due, or made arrangements to pay it over time, the judgment creditor can put a lien on the debtor’s personal property.

With a lien you will not get paid automatically. Liens inform potential buyers or others who might be entitled to have the property that the title of the property is not clear. Liens are usually paid off in the order of recording. If the debtor tries to sell the property, or give someone else an interest in it, you will usually get your money, with interest. This is because most buyers or other potential new owners don’t want property with unclear title.

  • You may put a lien on the debtor’s personal property located in any county in California.
  • The lien is good for 5 years. It may be renewed for another 5 years if you have not been paid.
  • If the property is transferred to someone else while the lien is in effect, the judgment lien continues until you get paid in full.

To put a lien on the debtor’s personal property

Step 1. Fill out California Secretary of State form:

  • Notice of Judgment Lien (Form JL-1)

Step 2. Make 2 copies - one for your file and the other to file with the Secretary of State.

Step 3. File the original and 1 copy of the Notice of Judgment Lien with the Secretary of State’s Office by mailing the two documents with a check for the filing fee, to:

Secretary of State’s Office
P.O. Box 942845
Sacramento, CA 94235-0001

IMPORTANT: When you are fully paid, you must remove the lien. You must also file an Acknowledgment of Satisfaction of Judgment (Form EJ-100) with the court. See Satisfaction of Judgment.

To learn how to remove liens see How to Remove a Lien.

IMPORTANT: Judgment liens on personal property end after 5 years.

Judgment liens filed with the Secretary of State on a debtor’s personal property end at 5 years. This is 5 years earlier than when the court Judgment normally ends.

To renew the Judgment – and then Renew the Lien

Step 1. Get and fill out 2 forms:

  • Application for and Renewal of Judgment, Form EJ-190
  • Notice of Renewal of Judgment, Form EJ-195

Make at least 2 copies of these forms.

Step 2. File the 2 forms (EJ-190 and EJ-195) at court and pay the court’s filing fee.

The court clerk will:

  • Keep the original Application for and Renewal of Judgment (Form EJ-190) and return the copies to you.
  • Complete and return to you the original Notice of Renewal of Judgment (Form EJ-195) plus the copies.

Step 3. Ask the clerk for a certified copy of the Notice of Renewal of Judgment (Form EJ-195) to send to the Secretary of State.

Step 4. Get and fill out a new California Secretary of State form:

  • Notice of Judgment Lien (Form JL-1) (Remember to add the interest.)

Step 5. Make 2 copies - 1 for your file and the other to file with the Secretary of State.

Step 6. Renew the Personal Property Lien by mailing the following to the California Secretary of State’s Office:

  • a certified copy of the court’s Notice of Renewal of Judgment (Form EJ-195);
  • the original and 1 copy of the new Notice of Judgment Lien (Form JL-1); and
  • a check to pay their filing fee.

The address is:

Secretary of State’s Office
P.O. Box 942845
Sacramento, CA 94235-0001

IMPORTANT: When you are fully paid you must remove the lien and file an Acknowledgment of Satisfaction of Judgment (Form EJ-100) with the court.
See the section on Satisfaction of Judgment.

To learn how to remove liens see the section on How to a Remove Lien.

If you are collecting from a business you may:

Levy on the business’ bank account

To levy on a bank account means that money will be taken from the debtor's bank, checking or savings account to pay the judgment. You'll probably need the name and branch address of the bank or other financial institution. (If you wrote a check to the business, you may be able to look at the back of your cancelled check to find out where the debtor's business bank account is located.)

Record an abstract of judgment

To record an abstract of judgment means to put a lien on any land, house, or other building the debtor owns in the county where it is recorded. If the property is sold with title insurance, the debt will be paid out of the proceeds of the sale.

Have the sheriff do a "till tap”

If the debtor is a business with a cash register, the sheriff can go to the address of the business and take enough money out of the cash register to pay the judgment debt and the sheriff's fee. First complete a Writ of Execution (Form EJ-130), request the court clerk issue it, and take it to the sheriff. Then instruct the sheriff in writing to do a "till tap." (There will be a sheriff's fee.) You must know the name and address of the business.

If there isn't enough money in the cash register to pay the judgment debt on the day a “till tap” is done, you'll have to request subsequent till taps and be prepared to pay another fee each time the sheriff goes back.

Place a sheriff at the business as “a keeper”

A sheriff can also be assigned for half a day or a full day to collect all the money that comes in during the time period that the sheriff is on site. This is called placing “a keeper.” Keepers can be assigned for up to 10 days maximum. If your judgment is not fully paid by the 10th day, and you want to continue to collect on the business the sheriff will have to seize the business’ inventory and/or assets.

There are other types of levies you may do. Check with the Small Claims Advisor in your county for more information.

After the judgment debtor has paid you in full, you MUST file an Acknowledgement of Satisfaction of Judgment (Form EJ-100) with the court. Learn how to do this.

Also, if you placed any liens on the judgment debtor’s real property you must remove the liens.

NOTE: If you do not remove the liens, you may be responsible for any damages that the debtor may suffer because you didn’t remove them.

Personal Property --

If you filed judgment liens with the Secretary of State’s office on the debtor’s personal property:

Step 1. Fill out a copy of the Secretary of State’s:

  • Notice of Judgment Lien Release or Subordination (Form JL-3)

Step 2. Optional: Attach a certified copy of the Acknowledgement of Satisfaction of Judgment (Form EJ-100) to the JL-3 form.

Step 3. Include the fee.

Step 4. Mail to the:

Secretary of State
P.O. Box 942835
Sacramento, CA 94235

Real Property --

If you filed any abstracts of the judgment on the real property of the debtor:

Step 1. Write a letter to each county where you placed a lien. Include the:

  • Case number
  • Name of the Debtor(s)
  • Name and address of the institution holding the property
  • Release date for the lien.

Step 2. Attach a certified copy of the Acknowledgement of Satisfaction of Judgment (Form EJ-100) to each letter.

Mail a copy of everything you do to the judgment debtor.

Judgments are enforceable for 10 years from the date of entry of judgment.
(See California Code of Civil Procedure, Section 683.020)

If the judgment is paid in installments, the 10 years run after each installment is due. (See California Code of Civil Procedure, Section 683.030)

The judgment may be renewed for another 10 years, and then is renewable after that.

TIP: Renew the judgment at least six (6) months before the 10 years run out. You may need several months to locate the debtor, etc.

When the judgment is renewed, the interest that has accrued will be added to the principal amount owing. From that point on, the judgment creditor is entitled to interest on the accrued interest.?

The interest is charged at 10% per year (unless the government is the judgment debtor -- it pays 7% per year).

To add the interest on the unpaid debt, file a Memorandum of Costs (Form MC-012) with the court at the same time as you file to renew the judgment. (See How is Interest Added to Unpaid Debt? for what to include.

IMPORTANT: Serve the Memorandum of Costs (Form MC-012) on the judgment debtor BEFORE you file it with the court.

To Renew the Judgment

Step 1. Get and fill out 2 forms:

  • Application for and Renewal of Judgment (Form EJ-190)
  • Notice of Renewal of Judgment (Form EJ-195)

Make at least 2 copies of these forms (plus the Memorandum of Costs form, if you filled one out and already had it served on the judgment debtor).

Step 2. File the forms at court (EJ-190, EJ-195 and MC-012 if you filled one out and already had it served on the judgment debtor). Pay the court’s filing fee.

The court clerk will:

  • Keep the original Application for and Renewal of Judgment (Form EJ-190) (and the original Memorandum of Costs (MC-012), if appropriate) and return the copies to you.
  • Complete and return to you the original Notice of Renewal of Judgment (Form EJ-195) plus the copies.

Step 3. Serve copies of Forms EJ-190 and EJ-195 on the judgment debtor.

(Remember, you can not do this yourself. Ask someone to serve the forms who is at least 18 years old and not involved in the case.) The service can be either in person or by mail.

Have your server fill out a Proof of Service:

  • Use Form POS-020 for personal service, or
  • Use Form POS-030 for service by mail.

Step 4. File the Proof of Service form with the court. Be sure to keep a copy of the documents for your own file.

NOTE 1: The judgment debtor has 30 days to object to the renewal and may ask the court to cancel the renewal.

NOTE 2: Once you have renewed the judgment, you may not renew it again until 5 years have passed.

NOTE 3: All property liens must be renewed also. To learn how to do this, click on the link:

IMPORTANT: Judgment liens on personal property end at 5 years. This is 5 years earlier than the original small claims judgment that decided the case ends.

The judgment creditor can ask the judgment debtor to pay for the costs of collecting the judgment They can also ask for interest on the judgment.

Costs

You may ask the debtor to pay for your costs including:

  • Service of process fees for a Judgment Debtor’s Examination;
  • Court fees for issuing an Abstract of Judgment, a Writ of Execution, a Notice of Levy, or a Renewal of Judgment;
  • Fees related to collecting;
  • Fees to record and index an Abstract of Judgment; and
  • Fees to file a Notice of Judgment lien on personal property.

Other costs require a court order to add to the judgment debt:

  • Service of process fees for a Subpoena
  • Notary fees
  • Fees for issuing a bench warrant, and for service of the bench warrant

NOTE 1: The court will usually not allow you to collect:

  • The time you spent in collecting;
  • Mileage, travel and parking;
  • Cost of meals; and
  • Long distance phone calls, postage, copying, and faxing.

NOTE 2: You cannot ask for payment of fees in advance. The only costs allowed are those you have already had, with a receipt.

NOTE 3: You need to inform the court of your costs within 2 years of their payment.
If collection of the judgment debt takes a very long time, file a Memorandum of Costs after Judgment (Form MC-012) every 2 years.

To Recover Your General Costs

Take the following steps.

Step 1. Fill out:

  • Memorandum of Costs after Judgment, Acknowledgement of Credit, and Declaration of Accrued Interest (Form MC-012)

Make at least 2 copies of the form – one to serve on the judgment debtor, and one copy for your own files.

Step 2. Serve a copy of the Memorandum of Costs (Form MC-012) on the judgment debtor(s).

You can not serve this form yourself. Ask an adult not involved in the case to serve the papers for you. Your server may use mail or personal service.

Have your server complete the Proof of Service on the back of Form MC-012.

Step 3. File the original Form MC-012 with the court. There is no fee.

The judgment debtor has time to object to your Memorandum of Costs. They have 10 days if they were served in person. They have 15 days if they were served by mail.

If the debtor objects, she or he will file a Motion to Tax Costs. You will be informed if there is a court hearing about your costs.

To Ask for a Court Order to Recover Unusual Costs

You can ask for a court order to include the costs at the hearing on Order of Examination of the Debtor. You may ask the court to approve the fees either before or after the examination. Be sure to take your receipts with you to court.

If you did not ask for fees at that hearing, take the following steps:

Step 1. Fill out:

  • Request for Court Order and Answer (Form SC-105) and
  • Order on Request for Court Order and Answer (Form SC-105A)

Make at least 2 copies of both forms and the receipts you are attaching to Form SC-105 – one copy to be sent to the judgment debtor and one copy for your own files. Keep the original receipts in your own files. Give the court copies.

Step 2. File the forms, with the copies of your receipts, with the court.

The court clerk will notify the debtor of your request by mail. The judgment debtor has time to object to your Request. If the debtor objects, she or he will file a Motion to Tax Costs and you will be informed if there is a court hearing about your costs.

Once you have a court order that allows you to add these costs, include them in the Memorandum of Costs (Form MC-012).

Collecting Your Costs

If you are using a levying officer to help collect the judgment debt, the levying officer may add to the amount being collected:

  • The court fee for issuing the Writ of Execution (and Earnings Withholding Order, if appropriate)
  • Interest due on the judgment; and
  • The costs the levying agent charges.

To have the agent collect additional costs, file a certified copy of the Memorandum of Costs with the levying agent. You can only file this after the time has passed for the debtor to object, or after the hearing, if the court allows your costs.

  • If the Writ of Execution (or Wage Garnishment) you filed with the levying agent is still valid, the levying officer will collect the amount in the Memorandum of Costs and interest. They will then return the Writ to the court. The levying agent will give you the amount it collected.
  • If the Writ of Execution or Wage Garnishment is closed, you will have to get a new Writ of Execution from the court to have the levying agent collect the costs due.

Every time the judgment debtor pays you part of the debt, you – the creditor – have to file an Acknowledgment of Satisfaction of Judgment (Form EJ-100) with the court.

To do that:

Step 1. Get and fill out an:

  • Acknowledgment of Satisfaction of Judgment (Form EJ-100)

Complete the section that deals with “partial satisfaction of judgment.”

Sign the form in front of a notary public.

Step 2. File the form at court and pay the court’s filing fee.

  • Make at least 2 copies of the form that has the court stamp on it -- one copy for your file and one copy for the debtor(s).

Step 3. Serve a copy of Form EJ-100 on the debtor.

  • Remember: You cannot serve the form yourself. Have an adult who is not involved in the case serve the form for you. Your server may mail the form or serve the debtor in person.
  • Have your server complete a Proof of Service form – Form POS-020 for service in person, or Form POS-030 for service by mail.
  • Make a copy of the Proof of Service and keep it in a safe place.

Step 4. Tell the court you have 'served' your forms (Proof of Service)

  • File the original Proof of Service (either the POS-020 or POS-030) at the court.

TIP: Leave all liens and levies in place until you are fully paid. Remember to renew them at least 6 months before they expire. Also, remember that they expire at different times.

IMPORTANT: When the judgment debtor has fully paid you, it is your responsibly to let the court – and all others – know that the debt is clear.

If there are no liens on the judgment debtor’s real or personal property

Step 1. Fill out the section on the bottom of page 2 of the Notice of Entry of Judgment (Form SC-130) called "Acknowledgment of Satisfaction of Judgment".

Step 2. File the form with the court. You can take it to the court in person, or mail it to the court.

If you mail it, write a cover letter to the clerk asking the clerk to file the document and return a copy to you for your records, plus one copy to send to the debtor. Include:

  • the original Form SC-130,
  • two copies (one copy for your file and one to send to the debtor),
  • the filing fee, and
  • a stamped and self-addressed return envelope for the clerk to return the copies of the Form SC-130.

Step 3. When you receive the copies of the form back from the court with the court’s stamp on them, mail one copy to the judgment debtor for his or her files.

If there are liens on the judgment debtor’s real or personal property

Step 1. Get and fill out an:

  • Acknowledgment of Satisfaction of Judgment (Form EJ-100)

Sign the form before a notary public.

Step 2. File the form with the court. You can take it to the court in person, or mail it to the court.

If you mail it, write a cover letter to the clerk asking the clerk to file the document and return a copy to you for your records, plus one copy to send to the debtor. Include:

  • the original Form EJ-100,
  • two copies (one copy for your file and one to send to the debtor),
  • the filing fee, and
  • a stamped and self-addressed return envelope for the clerk to return the copies of the Form EJ-100.

Step 3. When you receive the copies of the Form EJ-100 back from the court with the court’s stamp on them, serve one copy to the judgment debtor for his or her files.

  • Remember: You cannot serve the form yourself. Have an adult who is not involved in the case serve the form for you. Your server may mail the form or serve the debtor in person.
  • Have your server complete a Proof of Service form – Form POS-020 for service in person, or Form POS-030 for service by mail.
  • Make a file of the Proof of Service and keep it in a safe place.

Step 4. Tell the court you Have 'served' your forms (Proof of Service).

  • File the original Proof of Service (either the POS-020 or POS-030) at the court.

If you placed any liens or levies on the judgment debtor’s real property, bank accounts or wages, etc., you must remove the liens.

NOTE: If you do not remove the liens, you may be liable for any damages that the judgment debtor may suffer because you didn’t remove them.

Learn how to remove the liens.