When you renew your first judgment, you want to make sure you do it right; especially if it is close to its expiration date. Because of slow courts and/or things that can go wrong, I recommend renewing judgments at least six months before they expire.
One of many judgment-related articles: I am a judgment broker not a lawyer, and this article is my opinion based on my experience in California, please consult with a lawyer if you need legal advice.
Unless you are an attorney, do not help any creditor renew their judgment, as you could open yourself up to a charge of UPL (the Unauthorized Practice of Law). If there is sufficient time left to renew the judgment, usually it is best to have the creditor assign their judgment to you first. Then, you should renew your judgment. If there are only a few days left before a judgment expires, it is best to tell the creditor you cannot legally help them, and they need to act immediately; and to seek an attorney if they need help.
First, you renew your judgment, then you notice your judgment debtor with the court-stamped documents, then you give the proof of service that noticed your judgment debtor to the court. If your state permits, be sure to use the correct form(s) and notice(s), to show any interest earned and/or court-approved costs.
In California, you must use both an application for the renewal (form EJ-190) and a notice of the renewal of judgment (form EJ-195). The notice of renewal of the judgment can be personally served on the judgment debtor, or served on them by first-class mail.
In theory, service of the notice of the judgment renewal by mail is typically sufficient; because it is the debtor’s responsibility to keep their address up to date with the court. Should you mail a copy of the completed EJ-190 and EJ-195 forms by first class mail to the judgment debtor’s address, as listed on the original judgment? I recommend that you first make an effort to research the current mailing address of the judgment debtor.
It is often a good idea to send the renewal documents by certified mail (usually a green and white sticker for $3.90) and then print out the delivery confirmation from USPS.com, as part of your proof of service. You may want to consider having the judgment paperwork personally served on the judgment debtor, if the initial judgment was by default. The reason for this is that at least in California, personal service of any judgment-related court document on the debtor means they cannot (after 6 months) claim they did not know about the judgment.
Service of the notice on the judgment debtor starts a 30-day time limit, giving the debtor an opportunity to contest the judgment’s renewal. Most case law confirms that if an application to contest a judgment is not made within those 30 days, further challenges to the judgment are forfeited.
If there are some grounds for the judgment debtor to challenge the judgment (or its renewal), you may want to have personally served the renewal notice, so there is no question that service of the notice of judgment renewal was solid, and they got their 30 day opportunity to contest it.
Most courts accept a judgment renewal (and many other post-judgment related documents) proof of service by mail. Most judgment enforcers never have a notice of renewal of judgment personally served, they only provide notice by mail.