Answer: A judgment debtor's examination is one of many methods to help a judgment creditor in California to collect a judgment. If the judgment creditor cannot locate the assets of a business or an individual debtor, then the law provides for a procedure known as a judgment debtor examination. In this procedure, the court issues an order that requires the debtor to come back to court and answer questions under oath about the nature and location of the debtor's assets. With the information obtained, the judgment creditor can then obtain a writ of execution and direct the sheriff to seize the assets.
The judgment creditor must first apply to the court for a hearing date using the proper form. After obtaining a hearing date, the creditor must arrange for the debtor to be personally served with the Order to Appear by a sheriff or registered process server. Click here to see a list of sample questions to ask the judgment debtor. Rather than undergo the examination, debtors will often settle the judgment to avoid the hassle of coming to court. In most cases, you will obtain information about the debtor's ability to pay the judgment.
Sometimes the debtor will refuse to show up at the hearing. If this happens, ask the judge to issue a bench warrant or a warrant of attachment. For a fee, the local sheriff will contact the debtor and serve the warrant. In most cases, the court will schedule a second hearing and the sheriff will arrest the debtor for a second failure to appear.
The key to collecting any judgment is getting good information about the debtor's assets and conducting a debtor's examination can be very useful in obtaining this data. With persistence an tenacity, a good collection attorney can collect on most judgments using the debtor exanination procedure and other methods legally available to collect judgments.
The information provided in this article is general information only and is not intended as legal advice. DO NOT use this information as a substitute for obtaining qualified legal advice or other professional help.
About the Author: Carl H. Starrett II has been a licensed attorney since 1993 and is a member in good standing with the California State Bar and the San Diego County Bar Association. Mr. Starrett practices in the areas of bankruptcy, business litigation, construction, corporate planning and debt collection.