How Do I Remove a Judgment Lien in California After It Is Satisfied?

Full Question:

I placed a lien on the single family house of my ex-husband for a $30,000 marital dissolution settlement. If he were to pay me off with funds outside of a real estate transaction (not a refinance or sale) how is that lien removed or updated that it's paid. My ex wants me to submit a notarized statement that I have been paid, but that doesn't seem 'legal' enough to satisfy the lien. I would prefer not to have to go back to my lawyer who charged me almost $2000 to put the lien on.
06/18/2009   |   Category: Judgment Liens   |   State: California   |   #17060

Answer:

When a judgment lien is fully paid (satisfied), the person who was owed the money (judgment creditor) files an acknowledgment of satisfaction of judgment with the court that issued the judgment. The judgment creditor also serves the person who owed the money (judgment debtor) with a copy of the acknowledgment of satisfaction of judgment by delivering it personally or by mail. A certificate of service (sometimes referred to as a certificate of mailing) is attached to the acknowledgment of satisfaction of judgment when filed to prove a copy was served on the judgment debtor. If an abstract of judgment was filed with the county recorder, the judgment debtor may record the aknowledgment of satisfaction of judgment with the county recorder of each county where the abstract of judgment has been recorded in order to release the lien on the property.

Please see the following CA laws:

§ 724.010 Civ. Proc.

(a) A money judgment may be satisfied by payment of the full amount
required to satisfy the judgment or by acceptance by the judgment
creditor of a lesser sum in full satisfaction of the judgment.

(b) Where a money judgment is satisfied by levy, the obligation
of the judgment creditor to give or file an acknowledgment
of satisfaction arises only when the judgment creditor has received the
full amount required to satisfy the judgment from the levying
officer.

(c) Where a money judgment is satisfied by payment to the judgment
creditor by check or other form of noncash payment that is to be
honored upon presentation by the judgment creditor for payment, the
obligation of the judgment creditor to give or file an acknowledgment
of satisfaction of judgment arises only when the check or other form
of noncash payment has actually been honored upon presentation for
payment.

§ 724.020 Civ. Proc.

The court clerk shall enter satisfaction of a money judgment in the
register of actions when the following occur:

(a) A writ is returned satisfied for the full amount of a lump-sum
judgment.

(b) An acknowledgment of satisfaction of judgment is filed with the
court.

(c) The court orders entry of satisfaction of judgment.

§ 724.040 Civ. Proc.

If an abstract of a money judgment has been recorded with the
recorder of any county and the judgment is satisfied, the judgment
creditor shall immediately do both of the following:

(a) File an acknowledgment of satisfaction of judgment with the
court.

(b) Serve an acknowledgment of satisfaction of judgment on the
judgment debtor. Service shall be made personally or by mail.

§ 724.050 Civ. Proc.

(a) If a money judgment has been satisfied, the judgment debtor,
the owner of real or personal property subject to a judgment lien
created under the judgment, or a person having a security interest in
or a lien on personal property subject to a judgment lien created
under the judgment may serve personally or by mail on the judgment
creditor a demand in writing that the judgment creditor do one
or both of the following:

(1) File an acknowledgment of satisfaction of judgment with the
court.

(2) Execute, acknowledge, and deliver an acknowledgment
of satisfaction of judgment to the person who made the demand.

(b) The demand shall include the following statement: "Important
warning. If this judgment has been satisfied, the law requires that
you comply with this demand not later than 15 days after you receive
it. If a court proceeding is necessary to compel you to comply with
this demand, you will be required to pay my reasonable attorney's
fees in the proceeding if the court determines that the judgment has
been satisfied and that you failed to comply with the demand. In
addition, if the court determines that you failed without just cause
to comply with this demand within the 15 days allowed, you will be
liable for all damages I sustain by reason of such failure and will
also forfeit one hundred dollars to me."

(c) If the judgment has been satisfied, the judgment creditor shall
comply with the demand not later than 15 days after actual receipt
of the demand.

(d) If the judgment creditor does not comply with the demand within
the time allowed, the person making the demand may apply to the court
on noticed motion for an order requiring the judgment creditor to
comply with the demand. The notice of motion shall be served on the
judgment creditor. Service shall be made personally or by mail. If
the court determines that the judgment has been satisfied and that
the judgment creditor has not complied with the demand, the court
shall either
(1) order the judgment creditor to comply with the
demand or
(2) order the court clerk to enter satisfaction of the
judgment.

(e) If the judgment has been satisfied and the judgment creditor
fails without just cause to comply with the demand within the time
allowed, the judgment creditor is liable to the person who made the
demand for all damages sustained by reason of such failure and shall
also forfeit one hundred dollars ($100) to such person. Liability
under this subdivision may be determined in the proceedings on the
motion pursuant to subdivision (d) or in an action.

§ 724.060 Civ. Proc.

(a) An acknowledgment of satisfaction of judgment shall
contain the following information:

(1) The title of the court.

(2) The cause and number of the action.

(3) The names and addresses of the judgment creditor, the
judgment debtor, and the assignee of record if any. If an
abstract of the judgment has been recorded in any county, the
judgment debtor's name shall appear on the acknowledgment
of satisfaction of judgment as it appears on the abstract
of judgment.

(4) The date of entry of judgment and of any renewals
of the judgment and where entered in the records of the court.

(5) A statement either that the judgment is satisfied in
full or that the judgment creditor has accepted payment
or performance other than that specified in the judgment in
full satisfaction of the judgment.

(6) A statement whether an abstract of the judgment has
been recorded in any county and, if so, a statement of each
county where the abstract has been recorded and the book and
page of the county records where the abstract has been
recorded, and a notice that the acknowledgment
of satisfaction of judgment (or a court clerk's certificate
of satisfaction of judgment) will have to be recorded with the
county recorder of each county where the abstract of judgment
has been recorded in order to release the judgment lien on
real property in that county.

(7) A statement whether a notice of judgment lien has been
filed in the office of the Secretary of State and, if such a
notice has been filed, a statement of the file number
of such notice, and a notice that the acknowledgment
of satisfaction of judgment (or a court clerk's certificate
of satisfaction of judgment) will have to be filed in that
office in order to terminate the judgment lien on personal
property.

(b) The acknowledgment of satisfaction of judgment shall
be made in the manner of an acknowledgment of a conveyance
of real property.

(c) The acknowledgment of satisfaction of judgment shall
be executed and acknowledged by one of the following:

(1) The judgment creditor.

(2) The assignee of record.

(3) The attorney for the judgment creditor or assignee
of record unless a revocation of the attorney's authority is
filed.

(4) The local child support agency director or his or her
designee, if the local child support agency has been
providing child support services pursuant to Section 17400
of the Family Code. The acknowledgment of satisfaction
of judgment may be recorded by the local child support agency
pursuant to Section 27282 of the Government Code.
§ 724.070 Civ. Proc.

(a) If a judgment creditor intentionally conditions delivery of an
acknowledgment of satisfaction of judgment upon the performance
of any act or the payment of an amount in excess of that to which the
judgment creditor is entitled under the judgment, the judgment
creditor is liable to the judgment debtor for all damages sustained
by reason of such action or two hundred fifty dollars ($250),
whichever is the greater amount.

(b) Subdivision (a) does not apply if the judgment creditor has
agreed to deliver an acknowledgment of satisfaction of judgment to
the judgment debtor prior to full satisfaction of the judgment in
consideration for the judgment debtor's agreement either to furnish
security or to execute a promissory note, or both, the principal
amount of which does not exceed the amount to which the judgment
creditor is entitled under the judgment.

§ 724.100 Civ. Proc.

(a) If satisfaction of a judgment has been entered in the
register of actions, the court clerk shall issue a
certificate of satisfaction of judgment upon application
therefor and payment of the fee as provided in
subdivision (a) of Section 70626 of the Government Code.

(b) The certificate of satisfaction of judgment shall
contain the following information:

(1) The title of the court.

(2) The cause and number of the action.

(3) The names of the judgment creditor and the judgment
debtor.

(4) The date of entry of judgment and of any renewals
of the judgment and where entered in the records of the court.

(5) The date of entry of satisfaction of judgment and
where it was entered in the register of actions.

Rule 4:48-1.

Execution and Delivery of Warrant of Satisfaction
Upon satisfaction of a judgment duly entered and docketed, a warrant shall be executed and delivered to the party making satisfaction or to the party's representative, guardian or attorney, or to the clerk of the court, stating the judgment docket number or book and page where it is recorded and directing the clerk to satisfy the same of record. The warrant shall be executed by anyone entitled to receive satisfaction or by the attorney of record in the action. If executed by anyone other than the attorney of record the warrant shall be duly acknowledged. If executed by the attorney of record the attorney's certification shall suffice.

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