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Once a judgement is entered in California on a small claims case how long does it normally take a creditor to garnish my wages?

Murrieta, CA |

Creditor received judgement on a california small claims case against me for $365 since I was unable to pay in full. Is there a waiting period before they can proceed to garnish my wages? Will $365 be taken from my check all at once? Is there anything I can do to stop a wage garnishment other than paying it in full since I cannot afford to pay it all since there is only 1 income coming into the household of 6.

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Attorney answers 3

Best Answer

Yes, there is a 30 day stay before the judgement creditor can begin enforcement of the judgment.

Once the 30 days pass, the speed depends upon the speed the judgment creditor takes to locate your bank account(s) and employer to garnish wages.

If you are a debtor in California who has difficulty satisfying a judgment after being served with a Writ of Execution, you can file a Claim of Exemption along with a Financial Statement. A Claim of Exemption is a form a debtor files with the levying officer (like the sheriff) explaining why the wages that the creditor wants the debtor’s employer to garnish should be exempt (excluded).

The forms are:

Turn in 2 copies of the Claim of Exemption (Form WG-006) and the Financial Statement (Form WG-007) to the levying officer in your case (like the sheriff) within 10 days of receiving the Notice of Levy. Keep one copy of both forms for yourself.

Your employer will hold on to the money garnished until 10 days go by and the creditor hasn’t opposed the claim of exemption, or the judge makes a decision at the hearing on the claim of exemption. If the creditor doesn’t oppose your claim of exemption, your employer will return the wages to you. If the creditor opposes your claim of exemption, you will receive a Notice of Opposition to Claim of Exemption and Notice of Hearing on Claim of Exemption that will set a court date for a judge to make a decision. If the judge agrees with your claim of exemption, you will get the money back. If the judge agrees with the creditor, your employer will send the money to the creditor every month.

For Claim of Exemption for non-wage garnishments, use Form EJ-160 instead of WG-006:

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, please consult with your own attorney.


I usually have my clients contact the creditor to see if a payment plan can be worked out.


It depends on the creditor. They could start the process to do it the very next day after the 30 day stay expires.

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