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Requesting a Debtor’s Examination (OEX)

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A debtor who doesn't voluntarily pay the judgment within 30 days of the date the Notice of Entry of Judgment was mailed (and who has not appealed the case or filed a motion to vacate the judgment) must fill out a Judgment Debtor's Statement of Assets (Form SC-133) and send it to the judgment creditor. (See California Code of Civil Procedure, Section 116.830) Opens new window

If you are the judgment creditor and the debtor has not sent the information you need to collect your debt, you may ask the court to order a Debtor's Examination.  (This is often called an “OEX,” which is short for an “Order of Examination.”)  This is a special hearing (normally in a place other than a courtroom), during which you, not the court, ask the debtor questions.

During this special court hearing, the debtor is under oath. You can ask the debtor specific questions about the assets owned by them or their spouse or domestic partner:

  • Whether or not he or she has a job, 
  • What type of property he or she owns, 
  • Where that property is located – and much more.

To see sample Questions to Ask the Debtor, click hereOpens new window 

NOTE:  There are several limits on your use of court-ordered examinations.


To Ask the Court to Schedule a Debtor’s Examination (OEX)


Step 1.
Get and fill out an:

  • Application for Order to Produce Statement of Assets and to Appear for Examination (Form SC-134) Opens new window


NOTE: If you want the judgment debtor to bring documents about their property or job to the examination hearing, you must also fill out and file a Small Claims Subpoena and Declaration (Form SC-107). Opens new window  Documents that you list on the Subpoena for the judgment debtor to bring to the Examination hearing might include:

  • Payroll receipts 
  • Bank account statements 
  • Savings account passbooks 
  • Stock certificates 
  • Ownership certificates for vehicles 
  • Deeds to real estate

Make at least 2 copies of the Application for Order to Produce Statements form (and if applicable, the Small Claims Subpoena and Declaration form.)


Step 2.  File Opens new window the form (or forms) at court, and pay the court’s filing fee.
After you file the form(s), the clerk will set a hearing date, note it on the form, and return two copies (or an original and one copy) of the form to you.


Step 3.  Serve the form (or forms).
Have a copy of this form (or forms) AND a blank copy of the Judgment Debtor’s Statement of Assets (Form SC-133Opens new window  personally served Opens new window on the judgment debtor at least 10 calendar days before the date of the hearing.

You cannot serve the forms yourself.  Ask someone who is over 18 years old and not involved in the case, a sheriff, marshal, or registered process server to serve your papers.

NOTE:  If you are asking the court to issue a Subpoena, you must make sure that this form is served in person 15 days before the Order of Examination hearing.

Have your server fill out a Proof of Personal Service – Civil (Form POS-020Opens new window for the Application, and the back of the Small Claims Subpoena, if applicable, and give the original copies to you.

As soon as the Order for Examination is served on the third party, you must pay that person the cost of traveling from his or her home to the place of the examination – and back again. The fee should be the same as is provided for witnesses when they are legally required to attend civil proceedings in the court.  To learn about witness fees, click here.
 

Step 4. File the Proof(s) of Service with the court at least 5 calendars days before the Examination hearing.

NOTE: Service of the Order of Examination on the debtor creates a lien Opens new window on his or her personal property. The lien continues for one year from the date of the order (unless extended, or ended sooner by the court.)
 

Attendance at the Debtors Examination Hearing

  • You, the judgment creditor, must attend the Examination hearing. 
  • If the debtor does not attend the hearing and has not paid the judgment, including postjudgment costs and interest, you may ask the court to issue a bench warrant for his or her arrest, and he or she may be held in contempt of court. (The court usually gives the debtor another chance to appear before issuing a bench warrant.)


If you learn during the debtors examination that a third person (for example, the debtor’s parent, boss or friend) has possession or control of property belonging to the judgment debtor that could be used to pay your judgment, you may ask the court to order that third person to appear for examination.  To learn how to do this, click here.

Once you have the information you need about the debtor’s assets, you may go ahead and pursue your legal rights to enforce your judgment.  


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