What Is a California Judgment Lien

A California judgment lien can apply to real property or to debtor’s personal property — things like jewelry, art, antiques, and other valuables.  On real property a judgment lien is 7183715-lawsuit-form-or-document-in-business-office

money4_2created by recording an abstract of a money judgment with the county recorder. Unless the money judgment is satisfied or the judgment lien is released by the judgment creditor, a judgment lien is good for 10 years from the date of entry of the judgment. A judgment lien on real property may be extended for an additional 10 years if, before the expiration of the judgment lien, a certified copy of the application for renewal is recorded with the county recorder of the county where the real property is situated. However, a judgment lien on an interest in real property that has been transferred to a third party subject to the lien cannot be extended if the transfer was recorded before the application for renewal was filed, unless a copy of the application for renewal is personally served on the transferee and proof of such service is filed with the county clerk within 90 days of filing the application for renewal.

A judgment lien on real property attaches to all interests in real property in the county where the lien is created that are subject to enforcement of the money judgment against the judgment debtor at the time the lien was created. The judgment does not apply to rental payments, a leasehold estate with an unexpired term of less than two years, or the interest of a beneficiary under a trust or real property that is subject to an attachment lien in favor of the creditor and was transferred before judgment. If any interest in real property in the county on which a judgment lien could be created is acquired after the judgment lien was created, the judgment lien attaches to that interest at the time it is acquired.

In California, a creditor’s ability to collect under a judgment lien will be affected by a number of factors — including a fixed amount of value that won’t be touchable if the property is the debtor’s primary residence, called a homestead exemption, other liens that may be in place, and any foreclosure or bankruptcy proceedings.

The debtor’s homestead is exempt from enforcement of the judgment if the homestead is the principal home in which the judgment debtor or the judgment debtor’s spouse resided on the date the judgment creditor’s lien attached to the dwelling, and in which the judgment debtor or the judgment debtor’s spouse resided continuously thereafter until the date of the court determination that the dwelling is a homestead. The amount of the homestead exemption is $75,000 (it can increase to $100,000 or $150,000 in certain circumstances.

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