Enforcing a Court’s Judgment Category: Courts and Procedure


After obtaining a judgment, the plaintiff is known as a “judgment creditor” and the defendant is the “judgment debtor.” The creditor must take steps to collect their judgment, the court does not do anything automatically. However, the creditor may request a variety or orders and other documents used to collect money or other property from the debtor. These include wage garnishments (automatic deduction of up to 25% of the debtor’s paycheck), bank levies (seizing money out of the debtor’s accounts), placing a lien on the creditor’s real estate, and more.

The debtor can resist these methods by filing a claim of exemption for assets which are exempt from collection, such as a specified amount of wages depending on family size, Social Security and other benefits, most personal property, and automobiles up to a certain value.

Videos for Self-Helpers

SH@LL and the Law Library have produced a series of videos for people representing themselves in California civil cases.

This series of videos will help you understand the different methods of enforcing a civil judgment and how to use them. Watch our video playlist on YouTube:

Enforcement of Judgments

After obtaining a judgment, the judgment creditor’s next step is to attempt to collect what is owed. The court does not collect judgments; the prevailing party is responsible for all collection efforts. However, the court may issue a variety of orders and other documents that may be used to collect...

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Exemption from the Enforcement of Judgments

This list includes the most common assets and income that may be exempt from levy upon a judgment. This means that state and federal laws prohibit judgment creditors from taking these types of property in order to satisfy their judgment. Exemptions are found in the United States Code (USC) and...

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SH@LL (Self Help @ the Law Library) (formerly Civil Self Help Center)
Accidents and Torts

SH@LL provides general information and basic assistance to people without attorneys on a variety of civil legal issues. All assistance is provided by telephone or Zoom videoconference. Visit “What We Help With” for a list of qualifying cases.

Eligibility: Must be a Sacramento County resident or have a qualifying case in the Sacramento County Superior Court.

Abstract of Judgment: Putting a Lien on Real Estate after a Judgment

Preparing an Abstract of Judgment, Civil and Small Claims (EJ-001) is the first step a judgment creditor must take in order to place a lien on a judgment debtor’s real property or a judgment debtor’s potential recovery in a pending lawsuit. Related GuidesBank LevyDebtor’s ExamEnforcement of JudgmentsMemorandum of CostsWage Garnishment...

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Bank Levy

After you’ve won your lawsuit and received a judgment against the other party, your next step is to attempt to collect what you’re owed. The court does not collect your judgment for you– as the judgment creditor, this is your job. If the judgment debtor has a bank account, you...

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Claim of Exemption – Bank Levy

If you receive notice from your bank that funds have been withdrawn due to a court judgment (“levied”), and you want to object, act fast. You have 15 days (20 days, if you were served by mail) to file a Claim of Exemption. Here’s how. Creditors commonly collect on court...

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Debtor’s Examination

A debtor’s examination, also known as an order of examination, is often a preliminary step before initiating collection efforts. This examination is a formal court proceeding in which the judgment creditor may question the debtor to obtain information about the location and value of the judgment debtor’s assets, including paychecks...

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Memorandum of Costs after Judgment

When you win a lawsuit, you can collect the total amount of the judgment entered by the court, plus any costs incurred after judgment and accrued interest on the total amount. To have costs and interest added to the amount owed, you must file and serve a Memorandum of Costs...

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Renewal of Judgment

Background Money judgments automatically expire after 10 years. Once a judgment expires, it is no longer enforceable, and the judgment creditor is not able to collect any unpaid judgment amounts. To prevent this from happening, the judgment creditor must renew the judgment before the 10 years run out. The lengthy...

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Satisfaction of Judgment

Once a judgment is paid, either in full or in an amount the judgment creditor agrees to accept as full payment, the judgment creditor must immediately file an Acknowledgement of Satisfaction of Judgment (EJ-100) with the court (California Code of Civil Procedure (CCP) § 724.030). This form serves as a...

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Request a Default Judgment by Court

Background A defendant has 30 days from the date he or she is personally served with your summons and complaint to file a written response, or 40 if you served them by substituted service. (California Code of Civil Procedure (CCP) § 412.20(a) (3)). This is not an automatic cutoff. The...

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Request a Default Judgment by Clerk

A defendant has 30 days from the date he or she is personally served with your summons and complaint to file a written response, or 40 if you served them by substituted service. (California Code of Civil Procedure (CCP) § 412.20(a) (3)). This is not an automatic cutoff. The court...

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