How Long Does A Judgment Last In California?

by Douglas Jacobs, Esq.

June 13, 2007

Once someone obtains a money judgment in California it will last for 10 years.  At the end of 10 years, the judgment is no longer enforceable, unless it has been renewed.

California laws specify that you can renew a judgment during the tenth year.  Thus, between the end of the ninth year and the end of the 10th year, you can file a simple document with the court where the judgment was entered and breathe another 10 years of life into it.  This can be done repeatedly, ad infinitum, and therefore, in theory, a judgment can last forever.

Don’t be fooled by the 10 years.  That means specifically the judgment must be renewed during its 10th year.  If the judgment was entered into on February 1, 1998, it can be renewed anytime between February 1, 2007 and February 1, 2008.  If you wait until February 2, 2008 it’ll be too late and the judgment expires.

Rarely, however, do judgments last forever.  Usually the creditor loses track and misses the time deadline so the judgment expires, or it gets paid through an estate or a refinance or sale of a house, or if the debtor files bankruptcy.

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Douglas Jacobs is a California bankruptcy attorney and partner in the Chico law firm of Jacobs, Anderson, Potter & Chaplin. Since 1988, Mr. Jacobs has taught Constitutional law and Debtor-Creditor/Bankruptcy law at the Cal Northern School of Law. He has served as Dean of Students since 1994. He is a frequent lecturer on the subject of consumer bankruptcy law, and has spoken at both state and national levels.

Last modified: June 13, 2007