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How do I file a motion to vacate a judgement in CA? The forms changed on July 10, 2012 and I want to make sure I file correctly.

Los Angeles, CA |

I have a judgement against me in Texas that is being submitted to CA. I did not appear at the Texas trial and I don't have a good reason. I know I have 30 days from being served to file a motion to vacate the judgement. I went to the courthouse and was told as of July 10, 2012 they no longer use the same forms-there are no motions. Now they are called requests. I don't know which request to file. Will filing even make a difference?

Attorney Answers 2


A lawyer would have to review your case as to whether it has merit. Yes, that is correct. The forms changed in July, 2012. Just obtain that copy and proceed. Or you could hire a lawyer to advise you as to how to proceed or work something out with the judgment creditor.

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It sounds like the judgment creditor from Texas is trying to "domesticate" it here in California. A sister state judgment cannot be enforced in California until it is "domesticated" as a California judgment under the Sister State Money‑Judgments Act (the "SSMJA") or by filing a lawsuit to establish the judgment pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure 1913.

Under the SSMJA (California Code of Civil Procedure 1710.10, et seq.), a civil money judgment obtained in another state such as Texas may be filed with a California court and a California judgment is entered immediately. Once served on you the judgment debtor, it becomes enforceable and a writ of execution can be issued.

After service of the judgment, you the judgment debtor have 30 days to file and serve a motion to vacate the judgment. But the judgment may only be vacated upon very specific grounds, such as:

-- the sister state court lacked either subject matter or personal jurisdiction over the defendant

- there is a pending appeal of the judgment in the sister state

-- the sister state court granted a stay of enforcement, or

-- there is a motion to vacate the judgment pending in the sister state.

Your hunch is correct that it is nearly impossible to prevent the sister state judgment from being domesticated. Perhaps you should re-post this question under Texas, or consult with a Texas attorney? If the default judgment was entered in Texas, then you need to first vacate the Texas judgment in Texas.

Frank W. Chen has been licensed to practice law in California since 1988. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice for a particular case. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, consult with your own attorney.

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