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Collecting on Your Judgment Through the Use of a Lien

Amiel L. Wade

December 4, 2015

After you have won your case in civil court, a judgment will be entered by the court. As part of a typical judgment, the losing party will be obligated to pay money to the winner.  However, the person who owes the money (the debtor) doesn't always pay up. A judgment lien is one way to ensure that the person who won the judgment (the creditor) gets what he or she is owed. A judgment lien gives the creditor the right to be paid a certain amount of money from proceeds from the sale of the debtor's property.

In California, a judgment lien can be attached to the debtor's real estate -- meaning a house, condo, land, or similar kind of property interest -- or to the debtor's personal property -- things like jewelry, art, antiques, and other valuables.  A creditor can even attach a debtor’s bank account, stocks investment and other financial assets to obtain the money owed from those assets.

To attach a lien to real estate, the creditor simply needs take or mail the abstract of judgment to the county recorder's office in any California county where the debtor owns real estate now, or may own it in the future. The attachment will prevent the debtor from selling the property legitimately.  Once the attachment is done, the creditor can then file the appropriate motion with the court to force the sale of the property. For personal property, the creditor files a Notice of Judgment Lien with the California Secretary of State.

One a judgment is obtained, the creditor can force the debtor to come into court and provide all information about the debtor’s assets.  This is called a debtor's examination. A creditor can also serve a copy of the judgment on a debtor’s bank account and the bank will freeze any money in the account and provide it to the creditor.  A creditor can also garnish a debtor’s wages.

If you need help in collecting on your judgment, contact an experienced attorney to assist you.

Call 408-842-1688 or toll free at 855-656-7590 or send a confidential email to request a case evaluation. Office locations located all throughout the state.

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