Written by attorney Jingming Cai

Enforce Out of State Judgment in California

Enforcing an out of state judgment in California works the same as it does in any other state.

  1. A judgment is issued by the court and the judgment debtor contacts the debtor for a “voluntary" payment. 2. When the debtor does not voluntarily make payment on the judgment, the creditor of the judgment determines what assets are owned by the judgment debtor and where it is located. 3. If the property is located in the state where the judgment was issued, the creditor can proceed with enforcement unhindered. 4. If the assets exist in another state, the judgment creditor will request the local court issue a “sister-state judgment" so that enforcement on the judgment can be pursued.

According to the US Constitution, under Article IV, section 1 provides that full faith and credit must be given in each state to the public acts, records and judicial proceedings of every other state. Therefore, any judgment must be given full faith and credit by the “sister-state" court.

Enforcement actions of the sister-state court normally must be made by authorities of the sister-state and not the originating judgment state to maintain jurisdictional boundaries.

In order to obtain a “sister-state judgment" for unpaid debts, a judgment creditor needs to apply to the state where the debtor’s assets are located. Each state has its own forms and steps required for the application. Check with the local court to ensure that the application is completed correctly. The “sister-state" court will also require a certified, authentic, copy of the original judgment for the court’s records.

Once the application is filed with the local court, the judgment creditor is required to give the judgment debtor notice of the new filing. This allows the judgment debtor time to ensure that the “sister-state" filing was handled correctly. The judgment debtor is given a specific amount of time to respond to the new judgment filing, and if they choose not to act, the judgment

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