Calculating the Amount Owing on California Judgments

Calculating the precise amount owing on a judgment can be very important during the judgment enforcement process. If the creditor’s calculation is wrong, the court may refuse to issue a writ of execution (which is needed to levy on the debtor’s assets). In addition, if the creditor successfully levies on assets, the debtor can seek to quash the levy and writ of execution if the amount stated in the writ of execution is wrong.

The calculation of the amount owing on a judgment is summarized as follows:

The amount owing on a California judgment is the total amount of: (i) the judgment as entered or renewed, plus (ii) costs added after judgment, plus (iii) accrued interest on the judgment, minus any payments or partial satisfactions of the judgment.  CCP § 695.210; Lucky United Properties Investment, Inc. v. Lee (2010) 185 Cal.App.4th 125, 139.

What is the “principal amount” of the judgment?  The principal amount is the amount of the judgment as entered or as renewed, plus any costs added to the judgment, minus any payments or partial satisfactions.  CCP § 680.300.

How is post-judgment interest calculated?  In California, the judgment creditor is entitled to interest on the principal amount of the judgment that remains unsatisfied.  CCP § 685.010(a).  The rate of interest on a money judgment is 10% per year.  CCP § 685.010(a); Hyundai Securities Co. Ltd. v. Lee (2015) 232 Cal.App.4th 1379, 1390.

When does post-judgment interest begin and end?  Interest begins on the date the judgment is entered. CCP § 685.020(a).  When the judgment is payable in installments (e.g., child support awards), interest accrues from the date each installment becomes due.

Post-judgment interest is not compounded unless the judgment is renewed.  Big Bear Properties, Inc. v. Gherman (1979) 95 Cal.App.3d 908, 914-915.  When the judgment has been renewed, the accrued interest on the original judgment is added to the principal amount of the judgment.  OCM Principal Opportunities Fund v. CIBC World Markets Corp. (2008) 168 Cal.App.4th 185, 193.  From the date of renewal of the judgment forward, interest accrues on the total amount of the renewed judgment.

Post-judgment interest stops accruing when the judgment has been satisfied.  Satisfaction can occur via levy or by tender of full payment from the judgment debtor.

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