Christopher P. Valle-Riestra
Attorney at Law

California Law Topics

Does a Judgment Debtor Have to Pay the Creditor's Attorney's Fees for Collecting the Judgment?

In some cases, yes. A person against whom a court has entered a money judgment is called a "judgment debtor."  Code of Civil Procedure §685.040 states, "Attorney's fees incurred in enforcing a judgment are included as costs collectible under this title [the Enforcement of Judgments Law] if the underlying judgment includes an award of attorney's fees...." However, this is limited to cases in which the award of attorney's fees was included in the judgment because it was "authorized by contract." It is also necessary that the attorney's fees in the judgment have been awarded as costs, rather than as damages. (Code of Civil Procedure §§685.040 and 1033.5(a)(10)(A).)

These limitations raise a number of issues:

Where you have the right to recover attorney's fees incurred in enforcing the judgment, you may claim them simply by serving and filing a memorandum of costs of enforcing the judgment. (Code of Civil Procedure §685.070(6).) Note that you must do so within two years of incurring the attorney's fees, and before the judgment is fully satisfied.

Author: Christopher P. Valle-Riestra

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Copyright © 1998, Christopher P. Valle-Riestra
Revised October 12, 1998