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How Do I Collect Judgment From a Debtor Who Has Moved?

Law Office of David J. Hollander Sept. 4, 2023

Under California laws, creditors and debt collectors are allowed to interact with debtors reasonably or seek court intervention in an attempt to recover unpaid debts. However, various issues often arise when the creditor wants to recover debts through a court order entered in another state, but the debtor has relocated. Thankfully, you may be eligible to pursue outstanding debts by registering and enforcing the sister-state judgment. 

David J. Hollander is dedicated to offering comprehensive and knowledgeable guidance to clients in debt collection-related matters. As a seasoned California debt collection attorney, he can enlighten you about your available options to recover unpaid debts from out-of-state, help domesticate the sister-state judgment, and enforce the court order. The firm proudly serves clients across San Diego, California, and surrounding areas throughout San Diego County. 

What Is a Sister-State Judgment? 

Under California law, a "sister-state judgment" can be described as a part of a court order, judgment, or decree issued by a court of a state in the United States other than California which requires the payment of money, excluding support orders. The sister-state judgment allows a creditor to recover debts from a debtor who has relocated to California using a court order or judgment that was issued in another state. 

How to Apply for Sister-State Judgments 

In order to apply for the court to enter an order based on a sister-state judgment, the creditor must file an application with the following information: 

  • A statement that the applicable statute of limitations in California doesn't bar a legal action on the sister-state judgment 

  • A statement that no stay of enforcement of the sister-state judgment is currently in effect in the sister-state 

  • A statement of the amount of unpaid debts under the sister-state judgment and whether to include the accrued interest 

  • A statement that there is no pending legal action based on the sister-state judgment or previously entered judgment in another state 

  • A statement about the debtor's name and last known residence address 

  • A statement about the creditor's name and address 

In addition, you must attach an authentic copy of the sister-state judgment to your application. A trusted attorney can help file an application to register the out-of-state judgment in California and consequently notify the debtor. 

Notice of Entry of Judgment on Sister-State Judgment 

Once you have filed an application to register the out-of-state judgment in California, the court will enter the judgment. However, you must also inform the debtor personally that the California court has entered the judgment. This requires serving the debtor with a notice of entry of the California judgment. 

The debtor will have up to 30 days to respond to the notice before enforcement can begin. The 30-day waiting period may be waived if the creditor can show that the debtor will hide their assets and income within this period. Thus, the California court may order an immediate enforcement of the sister-state judgment. 

Enforcing Out-of-State Judgments 

In order to enforce an out-of-state judgment that has been entered in California, the court may order a writ of execution or allow enforcement through other means. Some possible options to enforce an out-of-state judgment in California include the following: 

  • Levying the debtor's assets and personal belongings 

  • Placing a lien on the debtor's property 

  • Levying the debtor's bank account 

  • Levying the debtor's vehicle 

  • Garnishing the debtor's wages 

  • Repossessing or foreclosing the debtor's home 

  • Seeking a lien judgment against the debtor 

  • Serving a third-party debtor examination  

If you have a credit judgment entered in another state and want to register and enforce it in California, you need to reach out to a highly-skilled debt collection attorney right away. Your lawyer can explore your possible options to enforce the out-of-state judgment and fully recover your outstanding debts and interests. 

What if My Judgment in the Sister-State Court Has Expired? 

If your out-of-state judgment has expired before applying to register the court order in California, the court will reject your request to turn the credit judgment into a California one. Therefore, it is important that you act fast and get in touch with a practiced attorney for proper guidance and to understand your available options. 

Knowledgeable & Experienced Legal Counsel 

Registering and enforcing an out-of-state judgment in California often involves several complex processes and paperwork. David J. Hollander can advise and guide creditors through the complex procedures involved in enforcing sister-state judgments in California. As your legal counsel, he can help submit your application, serve the debtor, seek to enforce the creditor judgment, and help recover all unpaid debts. 

Contact the Law Office of David J. Hollander today to schedule a simple consultation with a reliable debt collection lawyer. David J. Hollander can offer you the trusted advocacy and legal guidance you need in your creditor judgment domestication and enforcement matters. The firm proudly serves clients across San Diego, California, and surrounding areas throughout San Diego County.