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If Judgment Debtor avoids personal service for Debtor's Examination: any other way to serve, or proceed, or collect?

Los Angeles, CA |

If you have Judgment Debtor who has assets--including some real estate, but process server has not been able to personally serve them for Debtor's Exam: 1--Can court order any other service ? 2--Can court order newpaper publishing of Debtor's Exam service? 3--Other suggestions?

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Attorney answers 3


An ORAP can only be personally served. See CCP 708.110(d), which provides, "The judgment creditor shall personally serve a copy of the order on the judgment debtor not less than 10 days before the date set for the examination. Service shall be made in the manner specified in Section 415.10. Service of the order creates a lien on the personal property of the judgment debtor for a period of one year from the date of the order unless extended or sooner terminated by the court."

However, the judgment debtor can be served almost anywhere, including his/her place of employment. If you know where the debtor works or frequently visits, you can have him served there. You might want to search the court's civil, family and criminal dockets to see whether the debtor is required to appear at any hearings, and have him/her served in the courtroom while appearing at the hearing.

Good luck.

Susan Kathryn Ashabraner

Susan Kathryn Ashabraner


You don't have to personally serve the judgment debtor with the Abstract of Judgment, which you should have recorded in the county in which s/he owns real property in order to effect a lien. You can either serve him by mail, and attach a signed proof of service to the AOJ, or you can pay the county recorder a nominal fee to serve the judgment debtor a copy of the AOJ.

Susan Kathryn Ashabraner

Susan Kathryn Ashabraner


If you have someone other than the county recorder mail-serve the judgment debtor with a copy of the AOJ, such mail-service must be by REGISTERED or CERTIFIED mail. See Gov. Code section 27297.5(b)(3) ( FWIW, I prefer to pay the county recorder to serve the AOJ.


Attorney Ashabraner is correct. A order for judgment debtor exam can only be personally served. You can have a process server serve the ORAP anywhere, at home, at the office, or anywhere he or she might be.

Otherwise, you should be sure to implement the other enforcement of judgment procedures such as recording an Abstract of Judgment in each county he or she owns real estate, filing a Notice of Judgment Lien with the Secretary of State, levying on bank accounts and garnishing wages.

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. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, consult your own attorney.


A judgment debtor examination is only a procedure to get information from the debtor. It is not a way to get the debtor before a judge or to get the judge to order payment. The usual procedure at an ORAP is for the court clerk to swear in the debtor, and then send you and the debtor to the courthouse cafeteria, outside to the corridor, or to some other place outside the courtroom where you will ask your questions.

If the debtor has real estate, I assume that you recorded an Abstract of Judgment. If you, do so. Then, you should get all of the information about the real estate that you can get from public records. Copies of all Deeds, Deeds of Trust, etc., relating to the real estate. Find out if there are any other liens on the property. Then, you might want to obtain a title report. And an appraisal. If the dollar amounts are worth it, you can proceed to levy on the real estate. Much depends upon whether the property is the debtor's residence.

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