November 28, 2023 In Family Law (General)

Understanding Family Law Judgments and How to Handle Them

What Happens When You Have a Family Law Judgment?

In California, when a court decides someone owes money or needs to follow certain rules from a family law case, it’s called a judgment. Sometimes, the court can order that this judgment be given a special priority, meaning it gets dealt with first. This is where things like writs of execution come in.

What’s a Writ of Execution?

A writ of execution is a paper from the court that says it’s time to pay up or follow the court’s order. It allows someone like a sheriff to take certain actions to make sure the judgment is followed. This might mean taking and selling some of your stuff to pay the debt.

What Should You Do If You Get a Writ of Execution?

  1. Don’t Panic: Understand what’s happening. This writ means the court is trying to enforce its decision.
  2. Know Your Rights: You might have certain things that the court can’t take from you. This is where claiming exemptions come in.

Claiming Exemptions – Protecting Your Stuff

  • What It Means: Some of your property might be protected and can’t be taken to pay off the debt. These are called exemptions.


  • Personal Belongings: Things like clothes and basic household goods might be protected.
  • Tools for Work: If you have tools or equipment you need for your job, they might be safe from being taken.
  • Certain Amounts in Bank Accounts: Some money in your bank account might also be safe, especially if it’s from social security or disability payments.
  • How to Claim: If you get a notice that your stuff is going to be taken, you have a limited time to tell the court about these exemptions. It’s like saying, “Hey, you can’t take this because it’s protected.”

Special Cases for Renters

  • Living in a Foreclosed Property: If you’re renting a place that’s been foreclosed, you might have extra time before you need to move out.
  • Not Named in the Judgment: If you live in a place but weren’t named in the court’s decision, you can fill out a form to say you shouldn’t be forced out.

What Happens Next?

  1. The Sheriff’s Role: The sheriff, as the levying officer, might come to take things if you can’t pay the debt.
  2. Paying the Debt: If you can pay what you owe, you can stop the whole process.
  3. Sales of Your Things: If your stuff is taken, it might be sold, usually for less than it’s worth.

For People Other Than the Debtor

If you have something that belongs to someone who owes money, you might have to give it to the sheriff. This includes banks, which might have to give some of the debtor’s money to the sheriff.

Bank Accounts and Exemptions

  • Automatic Protection: Sometimes, the bank will automatically protect some of your money.
  • More Than One Account: If you have many bank accounts, there are rules about which account gets protected.


  • Ask for Help: This stuff is complicated. If you’re not sure what to do, it’s a good idea to talk to a lawyer.
  • The Mines Law Firm: If you need legal help, especially in family law, The Mines Law Firm is here to assist.


Disclaimer: This blog is for information only. It’s not legal advice.