Judgment Renewals

August 12, 2023

This article is an opinion based on California laws. Most of the laws concerning judgment renewals in California are the (CCP) Codes Of Civil Procedure, sections 683.110 to 683.220. Laws are different in every state, so be sure to check the laws of your state. Nothing in any JudgmentBuy article should ever be considered legal advice.

Most judgments expire after a certain number of years, often requiring the current creditor or assignee of record (or their lawyer) to renew them. The reasons why laws specify that judgments expire after a certain period of time, and why they are not so easy to renew, are not fully obvious to me.

Perhaps the reasons include providing revenue for the courts, reducing the number of case files open, giving the debtors another chance to hide assets or to vacate the judgment, or maybe even to punish inattentive creditors.

Similar to judgments, liens (that often depend on judgments to exist) also expire. In California, Abstracts Of Judgment are recorded in each county where the debtor now has, or may inherit property in the future. When the underlying judgment expires (or is vacated) the lien expires with it.

When one renews a California judgment, one must pay for a certified copy of the Application for Renewal of the judgment and record it at the County Recorder to keep the existing judgment lien alive. Simply renewing a judgment does not keep the lien alive. You must record a certified copy of the judgment renewal before 10 years of the date of the original judgment – not within 10 years of recording of the first Abstract Of Judgment.

If something changes and you want to record those changes on a lien, always amend the previous lien, and make sure the amended abstract lists the date and the recording number of the previous abstract in the correct places. If you do not amend a previous lien and record a new one, it will lose its original recording priority.

Most professionals extend a lien on real property with a certified copy of the application for renewal recorded in the county where the Abstract was recorded. Would filing an Amended Abstract after the judgment is renewed also extend the lien?

This is one of those areas where the statutes are perfectly clear: CCP 683.180, record the renewal in order to extend the lien. (And, do not forget about the personal service requirements and filing of proof of service, if the property was transferred subsequent to the prior Abstract recordation.) The new recordation of a new Abstract will effectively create a new lien, but may not not extend the old one.

If your judgment debtor filed for bankruptcy, do not renew the judgment before getting permission from the bankruptcy court, or discussing and proceeding with the advice of a bankruptcy lawyer. If there was more than one debtor, and one of them successfully went bankrupt, renew the judgment without listing the BK’d debtor. You might need to provide a declaration to the court explaining why you did not include all debtors on the renewal. You may need to provide a motion for a judge to sign, to do this. In California, CCP 187 might help. Under CA CCP 187, the court has in its power the right to correct any injustice.

It is always a good idea to renew judgments early (and get a certified copy of the judgment renewal, and record a certified copy of the judgment renewal for any existing property liens), long before the judgment expiration date. Do not wait until the last minute, renew at least 3 months before the expiration is a general rule.

Some creditors shop their judgments with just (e.g.) a week to go before the judgment expires. This is silly, the creditor should renew the judgment themselves, instead of looking for an emergency solution they will almost never find.

Another reason to renew a judgment, is in case the debtor has something to drag out, to try to eliminate the judgment. With old judgments, it is best to renew them quickly, as everything might later depend on the success of the renewal process and the time periods that may be required.

More reasons to renew judgments early are because courts are reducing staff and getting slower at processing paperwork, and renewing early can compound the amount of interest earned. California has a 10% simple interest, and when the judgment is renewed, it earns interest on the new amount owed, which can include previous interest earned and costs.

There are limits on how often you can renew judgments, and also sometimes on when you can start renewing them. In California, there is no restriction on when you can first renew a judgment, but once you renew it the first time, you cannot renew it more often than every 5 years.

Renewing provides notice to the debtor by mail, that you are renewing the judgment. The element of surprise is sometimes an important factor in a successful judgment recovery.

Renewing gives the debtor a small chance at vacating the judgment (if they can prove they were not served properly) within about 40 days of being served by first-class mail. Some situations and States require you to wait a certain period of time, before enforcing the judgment while it is being renewed.

In California, renewals are like filing a Memorandum of Costs except that a fee is required. The Clerk just processes the fee and stamps the form as filed. It is up to the judgment debtor to challenge the contents of the form. CCP 683.150 says:

(a) Upon the filing of the application, the court clerk shall enter the renewal of the judgment in the court records.

“The statutory renewal of judgment is an automatic, ministerial act accomplished by the clerk of the court; entry of the renewal of judgment does not constitute a new or separate judgment. Filing the renewal application (and paying the appropriate filing fee, Gov.C. 70626(b)) results in automatic renewal of the judgment. No court order or new judgment is required. The court clerk simply enters the renewal of judgment in the court records.”

There is no statutory requirement that the notice of renewal be served on the judgment debtor in order for the renewal to be effective. (See CCP 683.160.) Service on the judgment debtor is not necessary to renew the judgment. However, no writ of execution can issue on the renewed judgment until proof of service of the Notice has been filed with the court clerk. From Goldman v. Simpson 160 Cal. App. 4th 255.

The forms and procedures are different in each State. In California, a judgment is renewed by taking these steps:

1) Find and fill out the EJ-195 and EJ-190 forms, and make 2 copies of each.

2) Fill out a Memorandum Of Costs (MOC) MC-12 form for the current interest owed, and previously allowed costs, make a copy of it. Check your local laws, if there is only interest on a MOC, one does not need to notice the debtor.

3) File (bring 2 copies) the MOC and the filled-out EJ-190 and EJ-195 forms with court, this costs about $20.

4) After your EJ-195 is court-stamped, make a copy of it.

5) Serve the renewal forms by mail to the debtor and get your proof of service. Proof of service (POS) is completed after the renewal paperwork is mailed to the judgment debtor. POS can be either a judicial council form (in California it is a POS-20 form) or a “home made” proof of service. Proof of service means that you cannot sign the form, a process server or another person needs to sign and date it. Make a copy of the completed proof of service.

6) Return the original court-stamped EJ-195 form, with the proof of service that it was mailed to the debtor, and a copy of each, to the court. The debtor will have 30 days to motion the court they wish to vacate or modify the judgment or it’s renewal.

In California, when renewing a judgment, sections section 3 (c) shows the “recording” of the judgment. This is the filing of an abstract of judgment, and if multiple abstracts in more than one county have been recorded, the renewal must be recorded in all counties that abstracts have been filed in. The reason for this is that in order to “continue” the abstract lien a certified copy of the application for renewal is recorded with the county recorder where abstracts were recorded previously. That will ensure that the lien(s) stays in place.

The lines for “Recorded”, “Date”, “County” and “Instrument No.” are all long enough, you can list each recorded Abstract and line up the appropriate information under each entry, or you can type after “Recorded” the words “See Attachment 1”, and use an MC-025 form to list each recorded Abstract. In California, as per CCP 683.180(a), a certified copy of the EJ-190 must be recorded in each County where an abstract of judgment is recorded.

What is the original judgment creditor sends you a judgment that very recently expired? You might tell them it’s too late, but the OJC’s lawyer said the actual expiration is 10 years plus the appealable time limit, 30 days more. See: http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview/id/732080.html.

This seems to say either 30 or 60 days past judgment date is OK, it is not always that way. Another circumstance that can extend the expiration date of a judgment is bankruptcy, out of the country, out of state, in prison, in the military, etc. The California 10 years restarts if the judgment is amended. Was there an appeal?

The ten years is calculated by the time the judgment is enforceable, not stayed for any reason. There are cases that say the 10 years does not run until the judgment is final (although a civil judgment is enforceable immediately upon entry, it does not become final until the time for appeal has expired or if an appeal is taken until after the entry of the remitter) and then there are some that say it is calculated from the entry of the judgment.

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