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How to Collect Judgment from Debtor Who Has Moved To California

After years of contentious litigation, you have finally obtained a judgment against a debtor. What happens when your debtor moves to another state, namely California, with their assets?

For many, the process of obtaining a judgment against a debtor is long and may be costly. Even if the court has ruled in your favor, unfortunately, as of 2020, California is one of only 2 states (the other being Vermont) that has not adopted the Revised Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act (UEFJA). This legislation is designed to simplify the process of enforcing judgments when the debtor moves to a different state.

A sister-state (or “out-of-state”) judgment is defined as “that part of any judgment, decree, or order of a court of a state of the United States, other than California, which requires the payment of money, but does not include a support order as defined in Section 155 of the Family Code.” Cal. Code of Civ. Proc. § 1710.10.

To collect on your sister-state judgment, you will need the judgment to be domesticated by the Superior Court of California. Fortunately, domesticating a judgment in California is relatively straightforward.

The application must be filed with the superior court in the debtor’s county of residence in California. If the debtor is a non-resident, you may file it in any county in California. We recommend filing it in the county where the debtor has assets, if this information is accessible to you. Afterwards, the California court will approve the Application and enter the Notice of Entry of Sister-State Judgment. This is the first step to enforcing your original judgment.

Following this, you must formally serve the judgment to the debtor and wait at least 30 days for them to respond. A writ of execution can only be issued after the 30 days. Once the 30 days have passed, SAC Attorneys can help you begin the collection process on the judgment in California. We will help you increase your chances of collecting on your judgment.

Execution proceedings can be approved immediately if the judgment debtor is not a resident of California or emergency circumstances are approved by a Superior Court judge. Contact our professional, experienced and aggressive debt collection attorneys in San Jose, California immediately. Our practice area covers breach of contract, investment fraud, partnership dispute, and employment lawsuits. We regularly appear in state and federal courts in San Francisco Bay Area and entire state of California. Creditors should not waver to domesticate foreign judgments in California.


1. What is a sister-state judgment?

A sister-state judgment is defined as “that part of any judgment, decree, or order of a court of a state of the United States, other than California, which requires the payment of money, but does not include a support order as defined in Section 155 of the Family Code.” Cal. Code of Civ. Proc. § 1710.10.

2. What does the application require?

The application must meet the following requirements:

  1. The judgment is not barred by the applicable statute of limitations.
  2. No enforcement of the sister state judgment is currently in effect in the sister state.
  3. No action based on the sister state judgment is currently pending in any court in this state and that no judgment has previously been entered in any proceeding in this state.
  4. Include a statement of the amount remaining unpaid under the sister state judgment. If you desire to include accrued interest, also include a statement of the amount of interest accrued (computed at the rate of interest under the law of the sister state), a statement of the rate of interest, and a citation to the law establishing the rate of interest.
  5. Type of debtor:
    1. If the debtor is an individual, include their name and last known residence address.
    2. If the debtor is a corporation, include the corporation’s name, place of incorporation, and whether the corporation has qualified to do business in California.
    3. If the debtor is a partnership, include the name of the partnership, whether it is a foreign partnership, and, if so, whether it has filed a statement designating an agent for service of process.
  6. Include the name and address of the creditor.

3. What’s the process of enforcing an out-of-state judgment in California?

A sister state judgment will be authenticated by either:

(1) Registering as a California judgment with the Sister State Money-Judgments Act
(2) Filing a lawsuit to establish the judgment in California

4. What’s California’s rate of interest?

Following entry of judgment, interest will accrue at California's rate of interest = 10% annually. Cal. Code of Civ. Proc. § 1710.25(b), § 1710.35.

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