Click on the topic below that applies to the assets your debtor has. You can try several things at once.
If the debtor is employed, you can get an Earnings Withholding Order to garnish the debtor's wages until you are paid. You have the right to collect up to 25 percent of the amount over the federal minimum wage that the debtor earns (as long as it is not exempt under other rules). This only works if the other person is employed by someone else. A wage garnishment does not work against someone who is self-employed.
The debtor has 10 days to file a Claim of Exemption (Form WG-006) . If the debtor does file this claim, you have the right to oppose it. Click to learn about a Claim of Exemption for wage garnishments and how to oppose it.
Click if you are an employer and received a wage garnishment order for an employee.
You can get a levy on the debtor's bank account or safe deposit box. You will need to know the branch where the accounts are kept, and sometimes you also have to know the account number. Check with your small claims advisor or sheriff/marshal for more information on the procedures in your county.
The judgment debtor has 10 days to oppose the bank levy before the sheriff sends the money to the creditor. The debtor has to file a Claim of Exemption (Form EJ-160). If he or she does, you have the right to oppose it. The court then may have a hearing to decide whether to turn all or some of the money over to you as the creditor or let the judgment debtor keep it.
Click to learn about a Claim of Exemption for levies or other nonwage garnishments and how to oppose it.
To collect from a debtor who will not pay you, you can file a lien on the debtor's real property (like a house or land). This way when the debtor tries to sell or refinance his or her home, you can get paid your judgment plus accrued interest from the escrow. If you choose not to wait for the debtor to sell or refinance the property, you can look into "foreclosing" on the judgment lien. This means that you force the debtor to sell the property and pay you with that money. This only works when there is enough equity in the property to pay all the liens as well as the costs of foreclosure.
Some county assessors will confirm if a debtor owns real property over the phone, or you may be able to find that information online at the county assessor's website. Click to find your county tax assessor.
Having the debtor's house or other real property sold at public auction
You can have the sheriff or marshal take the debtor's real property and have it sold at public auction. For more information, check out California Code of Civil Procedure sections 700.015, 701.540 through 701.680, and 704.710 through 704.850.
This is a relatively complex way to collect a judgment. If you still want to do it, follow these steps:
You can have the sheriff take the debtor's personal property and sell it at public auction to pay the debt.
This personal property can include things like:
But, often, the cost of doing this is more than the value of the property, so make sure that the property you want the sheriff to take and sell will be worth all the effort and money.
If you decide you want to try this collection method, you must:
Getting the sheriff to take the debtor's car and sell it
One of the items of personal property you can put a lien on is the debtor's car. After you put the lien, the sheriff will seize (take) the car and sell it. This process is fairly expensive. Also, there often is not enough value, if any, left in the car to pay very much of the judgment.
But if you decide you would like to do this, follow these steps:
If the debtor has a lawsuit against someone else, you may be able to put a lien on the money the debtor hopes to get (his or her recovery) if he or she wins that lawsuit.
You can place a lien on the debtor's recovery in a pending lawsuit by:
When a court issues a Writ of Execution (Form EJ-130), the court directs the sheriff or marshal to enforce the judgment in your case in the county where the assets are located.
Getting a writ of execution may be a required first step in enforcing your judgment and is the most common method of reaching a judgment debtor's interest in real and personal property.
To ask the court to issue a writ, you will have to prepare the Writ of Execution (Form EJ-130) and sometimes an affidavit supporting the writ of execution, where you explain why you need the writ to collect on your judgment.
Courts may deal with writs of execution differently:
Talk to the clerk at your local court to find out how your court handles this process.