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Abstract of Judgment: A written summary of a judgment which states how much money the losing defendant owes to the person who won the lawsuit (judgment creditor), the rate of interest to be paid on the judgment amount, court costs, and any specific orders that the losing defendant (judgment debtor) must obey.

Arbitration: A process of dispute resolution in which a neutral third party (arbitrator) renders a decision after a hearing at which both parties have an opportunity to be heard. Where arbitration is voluntary, the disputing parties select the arbitrator who has the power to render a binding decision.


  • a person to whom an assignment is made
  • a person appointed to act for another
  • a person to whom a right or property is legally transferred.

California Civil Code (CC) and California Code of Civil Procedures (CCP): Books that contain some of California's most widely used substantive and procedural law. They are available at all public libraries, and law libraries. They are also available on-line at

Claim of Exemption: A procedure by which a "judgment debtor" can claim that, under federal and/or California law, certain of his money or other property is exempt from collection efforts to satisfy a debt.

Contingency: A future event or circumstance whose occurrence is not certain.

Default Judgment: A court decision given to the plaintiff (person who filed suit) when the defendant/debtor fails to show up.

Discharge: The legal elimination of debt through a bankruptcy case. When a debt is discharged, it is no longer legally enforceable against the debtor, though any lien which secures the debt may survive the bankruptcy case.

Dismissal: The termination of the case without either the entry of a discharge or a denial of discharge; after a case is dismissed, the debtor and the creditors have the same rights as they had before the bankruptcy case was commenced.

Garnishment: To attach (legally take) money, usually wages, or commission, for payment of a debt.


  • A formal decision given by a court
  • An obligation (as a debt) created by the decree of a court
  • A certificate evidencing such a decree

Judgment Creditor: A person to whom money is owed under a court decision.

Judgment Debtor: A person who owes money under a court decision.

Levy: A legal method to seize property or money for unpaid debts under court order. For example, a sheriff can levy on (sell) the debtor's automobile if they refuse to pay a judgment.

Lien: A claim, encumbrance, or charge on property for payment of some debt, obligation or duty.

Money Judgment: A legal method to seize property or money for unpaid debts under court order. For example, a sheriff can levy on (sell) the debtor's automobile if they refuse to pay a judgment.

Order of Examination: A court procedure allowing a judgment creditor to question a judgment debtor about the extent and location of his assets.

Process Server: The person who delivers court papers to a party or witness.

Promissory Note: An unconditional promise in writing made by one person to another person, signed by the maker, engaging to pay, on demand or at a fixed or determinable future time, a sum certain in money to, or to the other of a specified person or the bearer.

Proof of Service: A document filed in court as evidence that process has been successfully served on a party.


  • Compensation under law.
  • Payment for an injury or of money owed.
  • Completion of an obligation by performance or something equivalent to performance.

Summons: A citation, a warning to appear in court.

Wage Assignment: An instrument whereby an employee assigns to his creditor the right to receive payments out of his future wages.

Wage Garnishment: After a judgment has been issued (and the debtor/defendant's time to appeal has elapsed) the court will issue a writ of execution upon the judgment creditor's or Assignee of Record's request. This may then be turned over to the sheriff or marshal with orders to collect (garnish) a portion of the judgment debtor's wages directly from his employer.

Writ of Execution: An order by a court to the sheriff or marshal to collect a specific amount of money due.