Enforcing Out-of-State Judgments in California – Part 1

If judgment has been entered in a different state but the debtor has California assets, the foreign state judgment can be turned into a California judgment by following the procedure set forth in California Code of Civil Procedure § 1710.  In short, the creditor must file an application to domesticate the judgment in California. The California court will then enter judgment on the same terms as the out-of-state judgment.

Then the creditor must personally serve the debtor with notice of entry of the California judgment.  The creditor must then wait 30 days from the date of service before enforcing the California judgment.  See California Code of Civil Procedure § 1710.45.  During this 30-day period, the debtor can file a motion to vacate the California judgment.

But the service and 30-day waiting period requirements present challenges for creditors?  First, what happens if the debtor cannot be found and cannot be personally served with the California judgment? Second, if the debtor is personally served but given 30-days’ notice before enforcement can begin, doesn’t that give the debtor time to hide its assets?

The solution to these problems may be found in CCP § 1710.45(c). CCP 1710.45(c) states:  “The court may order that a writ of execution be issued, or may permit enforcement by other means, before service of the notice of entry of judgment if the court finds upon an ex parte showing that great or irreparable injury would result to the judgment creditor if issuance of the writ or enforcement were delayed as provided in subdivision (a).”

In other words, if the creditor can make a showing that the 30-day waiting period is likely to cause the debtor to hide assets, the judge may waive the waiting period, thereby allowing the creditor to immediately enforce the California judgment, even prior to serving the debtor with notice of entry of the domesticated judgment.  This waiver of the 30-day waiting period can be requested in the same form that is used to apply for entry of the sister-state judgment.

The Wallin Firm is very experienced in enforcing sister-state judgments in California.  If you have a judgment entered in Arizona, Nevada, Florida or any other state that you need domesticated in California, feel free to contact The Wallin Firm to discuss domestication and enforcement of your judgment.

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