Requesting a “Third Person” Examination
Sometimes, another person, business, or organization has possession or control of money or property belonging to the judgment debtor that could be used to pay the judgment. You can ask the court to order this person or business to attend a hearing to answer questions about the money or property. This is called a “Third Person” Examination.
- The “third person” could be the debtor’s parent (or other relative), employer, or friend -- but not the debtor’s spouse or domestic partner.
- The third person examination can also be used to include a person or business that owes the judgment debtor more than $250.
Examination hearings are often held somewhere other than a courtroom, without the judge or court commissioner. Once the hearing begins, the third party will be put under oath, but in most counties you will ask the questions yourself.
NOTE: There are several limits on your use of court-ordered examinations.
To Ask the Court to Schedule an Appearance and Examination of a
Step 1. Get and fill out an:
NOTE 1: You must attach an affidavit to the form which includes the facts you know about the property, and that the “Third Party” has it, or “owns” it for the judgment debtor.
NOTE 2: If you want the “Third Party” to bring documents about the money or property they control to the examination hearing, you must also fill out and file a:
- Small Claims Subpoena and Declaration (Form SC-107)
Documents that you list on the Subpoena for the “Third Person” to bring to the Examination hearing might include:
- Bank account statements
- Savings account passbooks
- Stock certificates
- Ownership certificates for vehicles
- Deeds to real estate
Make 3 copies of the Application and, if applicable, the Small Claims Subpoena form.
Step 2. File the form(s) at court, and pay the court’s filing fee.
After you file the Application, the clerk will set a hearing date. He or she will note the hearing date on the form, and return the three copies (one original and two copies) of the form to you.
Step 3. Serve the form(s).
Have a copy of the Application (and Small Claims Subpoena, if applicable)
personally served on the third person, AND on the judgment debtor at least 10 calendar days before the date of the hearing.
You cannot serve the forms yourself. The server should be someone who is over 18 years old and not involved in the case, a sheriff, marshal, or registered process server.
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-020) 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 form(s).
File one Proof of Service (Form POS-020) and the back of the Small Claims Subpoena, if applicable, with the court for each person that was served. These must be filed at least 5 calendar days before the Examination hearing.
NOTE: Once the third person has been served, the Third Party Examination order creates a lien on the debtor’s property in their possession or control, or on the debt owed by the third person to the judgment debtor. 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.
- The “third party” must attend the hearing. If the “third party” doesn’t attend -- and the debtor has not paid the judgment, postjudgment costs and interest -- you may ask the court to issue a bench warrant for the “third party’s” arrest, and he or she may be held in contempt of court.
Once you have the information about the debtor’s assets, you may go ahead and pursue your legal rights to enforce your judgment.
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