Collecting Judgments in California – Definition of “Judgment”

When collecting judgments in California, the meaning of certain judgment-related terms can be very important.  This post explains California’s Enforcement of Judgments Law’s definition of the word “judgment”.

 A “judgment” is defined to mean any “judgment, order or decree” entered by a California court.  See CCP § 680.230; see also CCP § 680.110.  However, the word “order” cannot always be substituted for the word “judgment”.  Rather, the specific circumstances matter.  See Hyundai Motor America v. Sup.Ct. (Rosen) (2015) 234 Cal.App.4th 418, 425-426.

“Judgments” are final determinations of the parties’ rights in lawsuits.  See CCP §§ 577.  Orders of dismissal signed by courts are considered “judgments” and are effective for all purposes.  CCP § 581d; Lucky United Properties Investment, Inc. v. Lee (2013) 213 Cal.App.4th 635, 641-642.  In contrast, all other orders made by the court are considered “orders” rather than “judgments”. 

The definition of “judgment” and the determination of whether an order or other ruling is considered a “judgment” can be quite important in assessing the collection steps available to a creditor in California. 

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