How Long Does the Debtor Have to Pay?

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After the trial hearing, the court clerk will mail the plaintiff and the defendant a Notice of Entry of Judgment (Form SC-130), which states that the small claims case has been decided – and who won and lost.

NOTE: The person who won the case is now called the “judgment creditor.”
The person who lost the case is now called the “judgment debtor.”

The judgment debtor has 30 DAYS from the date the Notice of Entry of Judgment was mailed to: 

  • Pay the judgment, 
  • File an appeal Opens new window of the judgment (if the defendant appeared at the trial). 

    • If the judgment creditor wins the appeal, the payment is due immediately. 
  • File a motion Opens new window to vacate (cancel) the judgment (if the defendant did not appear at the trial). 

    • If the defendant was not properly served Opens new window and did not appear at the trial, he or she has 180 days to file a motion to vacate the judgment. 
  • Or complete and mail directly to the judgment creditor a Judgment Debtor’s Statement of Assets (Form SC-133). Opens new window  This form has information about the debtor’s property, including what it is, where it’s located, and who has it.  (The debtor does not send Form SC-133 to the court.)

NOTE: If the court made a conditional judgmentOpens new window the Notice of Entry of Judgment will say what the defendant has to do (or not do) by the stated date
or pay the amount of money specified.

If the debtor does not do any of the above, the creditor must go to court to ask it to issue orders and other documents required to force the debtor to pay.  These could include:

The judgment creditor can also:

To learn how to take these steps, please go to the section on Collection of Judgment

NOTE: Ten percent (10%) interest per year can be added to the judgment amount from the day it is entered in court until it is paid in full.  If partial payments are made, those payments are first applied to the accrued interest and then to the unpaid principal.
(See California Code of Civil Procedure, Sections 685.010 to 685.030) Opens new window




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