Place a lien on the debtor's real property interests
First, have the court issue an abstract of judgment and record it in any county in which the debtor resides and in any county in which the debtor may own real property. This creates a secured lien on any real property owned by the debtor in that county. Generally, these liens are based on a first come, first served basis. The debtor will now, most likely, be unable to finance or sell this or her real property without first paying your judgment.
Place a lien on the debtor's business interests
Second, record a notice of judgment lien with the secretary of state. This places a lien on certain statutorily defined assets of the debtor. It works terrific when the debtor is a business as opposed to an individual. It will not allow the debtor to dispose of certain assets without first paying your judgment.
Place a lien on all of the debtor's remaining assets
Third, you need to have the court issue an application and order for examination of the debtor, commonly known as a "judgment debtor examination". Once this has been issued and personally served on the debtor, a "secret lien" goes into effect that places a lien on all of the personal property the debtor has an interest in. Legally, there is only real and personal property, so this lien covers EVERYTHING that is not real property. It is very broad and powerful and needs to be highly considered after obtaining a judgment.
Levy the debtor's bank accounts
Fourth, now that you have protected yourself and done all you can to convert yourself from an "unsecured creditor" to a secured creditor, it is time to start getting paid. You need to locate the debtor's bank accounts and utilize the sheriff to start seizing these assets. You do not need to give notice to the debtor before you do this. You just need to locate the bank accounts. Look at fronts and backs of checks you have paid to the debtor in the past. Examine credit applications. And if necessary, use the services of legal third party companies. This is the most effective and fastest way to bring the debtor to the settlement table.
Garnish the debtor's wages
Finally, you need to start getting paid from the debtor if the debtor does not have enough in his or her bank account alone to pay you immediately. With the assistance of the sheriff, you can start garnishing the debtor's wages with an earnings withholding order. Generally, you are entitled to a percentage of the debtor's wages in order to satisfy your judgment. And if the debtor is a business, you can make a motion with the court to have the monies owed to the debtor business assigned to you so that the debtor's customers pay you instead of paying the debtor.
Additional resources provided by the author
Check out your local courthouse website and local county sheriff's website for more information. In California, also review the California Creditor's Bar Association and California Association of Judgment Professionals.
Our Rating is calculated using information the lawyer has included on their profile in addition to the information we collect from state bar associations and other organizations that license legal professionals. Attorneys who claim their profiles and provide Avvo with more information tend to have a higher rating than those who do not.
What determines Avvo Rating?
Experience & background
Years licensed, work experience, education
Legal community recognition
Peer endorsements, associations, awards
Legal thought leadership
Publications, speaking engagements
This lawyer was disciplined by a state licensing authority in .
Disciplinary information may not be comprehensive, or updated. We recommend that you always check a lawyer's disciplinary status with their respective state bar association before hiring them.