Time Limits


Below you will find some general information about enforcing judgments in California. Different states have different laws with respect to enforcement of judgments. This page provides a basic, general discussion of enforcement of judgment. There are books written about various facets of the subject, and this is not an attempt at writing one.

This general information may not apply to you, and it is not intended as a legal opinion or legal advice.

Time limits

Once you win a judgment in California, the good news is that the judgment is valid and enforceable for ten years. In addition you may apply to the court to renew the judgment for additional ten year periods indefinitely into the future. It is important to do this before the judgment expires because once the judgment lapses you may not renew it. Sometimes you have more than ten years to renew a judgment. This is for technical reasons that may not apply to every case. Since it is rarely a problem in law to be early it is better to be conservative with legal time limits and not wait to the last minute.

Another benefit of renewing a judgment in California is that the interest is added into the judgment on renewal, in effect compounding the interest. This is because judgments earn simple interest at the rate of 10% per year. Once the judgment is renewed, the accrued interest is added to the judgment, and interest during the renewal period runs at the same, simple 10% rate but on the new, higher amount.

While the law seems to provide a long period of time for enforcing a judgment, that does not mean it makes sense to simply wait to get paid. You may end up waiting a long time and perhaps forever. Sometimes a wait-and-see approach makes sense, but that is a decision that should be made after some investigation and analysis. Accordingly it is an excellent idea to take some immediate action to enforce your judgment to see if you can identify potential sources of payment and pursue them. Then, if you choose to wait, you are at least making an informed choice.

Delay may lead to practical problems such as memories fading, witnesses or documents becoming unavailable, businesses failing, marriages dissolving, people dying, bankruptcy, etc. In addition to these practical issues of life going on, there may be time limits for pursuing possible assets that are shorter than the ten year life of a judgment. For example, a lawsuit to set aside a fraudulent transfer is subject to a statute of limitations. If too much time passes