Enforcing a Civil Judgement in California

The Enforcement of Judgments Law (EJL) ( 680.010-724.260) was adopted in 1982 and provides a comprehensive scheme for the enforcement of civil judgments in California. ( 694.010; Evans v. Paye (1995) 32 Cal.App.4th 265, 276.) Under the EJL, "Except as otherwise provided by law, all property of the judgment debtor is subject to enforcement of a money judgment." ( 695.010, subd. (a).) Of relevance to this appeal, section 708.510, subdivision (a) provides in part: "Except as otherwise provided by law, upon application of the judgment creditor on noticed motion, the court may order the judgment debtor to assign to the judgment creditor . . . all or part of a right to payment due or to become due." However, this provision is limited to the extent that the moneys sought to be assigned are exempt from enforcement of judgments: "Where a specific amount of the payment or payments to be assigned is exempt by another statutory provision, the amount of the payment or payments to be assigned pursuant to subdivision (a) shall not exceed the amount by which the payment or payments exceed the exempt amount." ( 708.510, subd. (f).) The particular exemption at issue here is in section 704.140, subdivision (d), which provides that: "Where an award of damages or a settlement arising out of personal injury is payable periodically, the amount of such periodic payment that may be applied to the satisfaction of a money judgment is the amount that may be withheld from a like amount of earnings under Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 706.010) (Wage Garnishment Law)." Under the wage garnishment law, the amount of earnings exempt from levy is that amount which may not be withheld under title 15 United States Code section 1673, subdivision (a). ( 706.050.) Section 706.050 provides in part that: "The amount of earnings of a judgment debtor exempt from the levy of an earnings withholding order shall be that amount that may not be withheld from the judgment debtor's earnings under federal law in Section 1673(a) of Title 15 of the United States Code." Title 15 United States Code section 1673(a) provides that a garnishment is generally limited to 25 percent of a judgment debtor's weekly disposable income. Title 15 United States Code section 1673(a) provides in part: "The maximum part of the aggregate disposable earnings of an individual for any workweek which is subjected to garnishment may not exceed(1) 25 per centum of his disposable earnings for that week, or(2) the amount by which his disposable earnings for that week exceed thirty times the Federal minimum hourly wage . . . in effect at the time the earnings are payable, whichever is less."