Before creditors decide to domesticate a sister-state judgment in California, it is important to understand California’s service requirements with respect to the domestication of judgments in California. In other words, after the judgment has been domesticated in California, is the creditor required to serve the domesticated judgment on the debtor? If so, how must service be made?
The answer depends on the specifics of the judgment debtor.
Code of Civil Procedure section 1710.45(a) states:
Except as otherwise provided in this section, a writ of execution on a judgment entered pursuant to this chapter shall not issue, nor may the judgment be enforced by other means, until at least 30 days after the judgment creditor serves notice of entry of the judgment upon the judgment debtor, proof of which has been made in the manner provided by Article 5 (commencing with Section 417.10 ) of Chapter 4 of Title 5 of Part 2.
CCP section 1710.45(a) means that, ordinarily, a judgment domesticated in California cannot be enforced until: (1) the domesticated judgment has been served on the debtor, and (2) 30 days have passed since the date of service.
In what manner must the domesticated judgment be served? The answer is: In the same manner as service of a summons and complaint filed in California (e.g., personal service on the debtor, substituted service, Notice and Acknowledgment and Receipt).
Despite the general rule, sometimes the creditor is NOT required to serve the domesticated judgment on the debtor. Code of Civil Procedure section 1710.45(b)(1) states:
A writ of execution may be issued, or other enforcement sought, before service of the notice of entry of judgment if the judgment debtor is any of the following:
(1) An individual who does not reside in this state.
(2) A foreign corporation not qualified to do business in this state under the provisions of Chapter 21 (commencing with Section 2100 ) of Division 1 of Title 1 of the Corporations Code.
(3) A foreign partnership which has not filed a statement pursuant to Section 15700 of the Corporations Code designating an agent for service of process.
In other words, if the debtor is: (1) an individual living outside of California, or (2) a business entity not qualified to do business in California, then the creditor is NOT required to serve the domesticated judgment on the debtor. Rather, the creditor can immediately begin enforcing the domesticated judgment in California.
If you would like help enforcing a judgment in California, feel free to contact our firm to discuss.