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    This week’s question:
    I loaned a very good friend at work $10,000 several months ago and now she refuses to pay me back. I have a promissory note to prove it. If I take her to court and get a judgment in my favor, how long does the judgment last? I really need the money—including interest as stated in the promissory note at 10%.
    /s/Judy J.
    Almaden Valley

    Dear Judy—
    Sorry to hear about your problem, Judy. Maybe it will turn out OK in the long run. Let’s hope so.
    Collection suits can be difficult. Not so much just because friends, co-workers, or family are involved, but often because the debtor just does not have the money to pay it back.
    You may be able to file suit in court for the $10,000, plus court costs, interest, attorneys’ fees (if provided for in the promissory note), and related items. If you win your suit, the judge will sign a “judgment” in your favor for all of those related items. Your “title” at that point in time will be “judgment creditor”.
    If the Court rules in your favor, you or your attorney will file that judgment in the clerk’s office and receive an “endorsed-filed” copy back for your records. You will want to save that document, of course, as well as all of your Court and other papers related to the debt.
    You or your attorney will also presumably obtain an “abstract of Judgment” that you will want to record in each county where the debtor has real estate.
    If the debtor pays the judgment and you receive your money, fine. But if the debtor does not pay the judgment, you need to follow up as best you can.
    Your money judgment will usually be good for 10 years under California Code of Civil Procedure §683.120, but you need to file an “Application for Renewal of Judgment”. You cannot just sit back and relax forever. If you do, the money judgment could be unenforceable after 10 years, i.e., worthless.
    You may file that Application for Renewal after 5 years from when you obtained your judgment, under California Code of Civil Procedure §683.110. You must renew your judgment within 10 years under California Code of Civil Procedure §683.120, as stated above.
    In other words, your judgment may be renewed after 5 years but must be renewed before 10 years passes, or it will expire.
    Of course, if the judgment debtor files bankruptcy, usually the judgment creditor receives zero and the debt is “discharged” in bankruptcy. That is why the title for this article reads “Your Money Judgment May Last a Long Time . . . and Then Again It May Not”.
    If you are lucky, the judgment can be renewed one or more times with interest on the judgement usually adding up at 10% per annum on civil judgments. That is probably a better rate of interest you can receive at most financial institutions. I have seen judgments renewed for 3 successive 10-year terms, i.e. 30 years.
    You and our other Almaden Times readers can go online and bring up California Code of Civil Procedure Section 683.110 on your screen and read more about “Renewal of Judgments” in Article 2. It makes for interesting reading.
    And if you are interested in possibly renewing your judgment, you can go online and bring up California Judicial Council form EJ-190, entitled “Application for and Renewal of Judgment”. You can see what information is needed to renew your money judgment for another 10 years.
    And at every step of the way, you may want to consult with your legal counsel. Many of the rules involved are rather technical and one wrong step could create a huge problem for you.
    Good luck, Judy. I hope it all turns out well for you.
    /s/Donald J. DeVries
    Almaden Valley

    You can reach Mr. DeVries with your questions by email at don@almadenvalleylawyers.com, with “Almaden Times” in the subject line, fax at (408)268-6502, telephone at (408)268-9500, or mail at DeVries Law Office at 6475 Camden Avenue, Suite 200, San Jose, CA 95120. Your name will not be used. No attorney-client relationship is created by these articles.

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