Enforcing a judgment originally obtained in a sister state

Enforcing a judgment originally obtained in a sister state

On Behalf of | May 16, 2024 | Collections

Some companies attempting to collect on debts have a relatively straightforward process ahead of them. The people or businesses who owe money follow a payment plan and consistently reduce what they owe by sending monthly payments.

Other times, creditors may have a very difficult time collecting on a debt. Some people go to extreme lengths in an attempt to avoid their financial responsibilities. They might move from one state to another after losing a debt-related lawsuit in civil court. They may change their addresses and phone numbers to avoid collection efforts. As such, if a creditor has taken legal action elsewhere, they may need to enforce a judgment secured in a sister state after locating a debtor in California.

How does sister state enforcement work?

The laws regulating business conduct and lawsuits largely exist on a state-by-state basis. Each state has its own rules, and the courts in each state interpret those rules to establish court precedent. In theory, that might mean that creditors and debt collectors have to relitigate cases if a debtor moves from one jurisdiction to another.

However, laws about debt domestication and judgment enforcement allow creditors to avoid the frustration of tracking down and serving a debtor a second time and then validating the debt in a different civil court. Instead of that frustrating and complex process, the creditor simply needs to bring the judgment to the civil courts in the new state to request its domestication and enforcement.

The California civil courts can enforce judgments issued in other states. The sister state enforcement process effectively allows the creditor that pursued the lawsuit initially to engage in the same collection activity in California that they could have pursued in the state that initially granted the judgment if the debtor had not intentionally relocated.

Seeking to enforce the sister state judgment is often a faster and more cost-effective solution than bringing a new lawsuit against a debtor. Creditors can potentially begin enforcing the judgment by garnishing wages or placing a lien against valuable property before the debtor has an opportunity to attempt to evade their responsibilities by making drastic changes again.

Debt domestication and judgment enforcement can be difficult for organizations to pursue without in-state representation. Securing the right assistance when collection efforts move into California from another state could lead to faster and more cost-effective debt collection than re-litigating a case multiple times in different jurisdictions.