The interest rate on judgments in California has been 10% per annum (a fancy way of saying “per year”) since longer than I’ve been practicing. This means that the judgment amount doubles every 7.2 years.

Now, the interest rate has changed to 5% for two types of judgments:

  • Judgments for medical expenses where the unpaid balance is less than $200,000 and
  • Judgments for personal debts where the unpaid principal balance is less than $50,000.

This change applies to judgments entered or renewed after January 1, 2023.  [See California Code of Civil Procedure Sec. 685.010.] This means that for these types of judgments, the amount will double every 14.4 years.

A judgment continues to exist for 10 years after its entry, [CCP Sec. 683.020] but can be renewed for another 10 years for an indefinite number of times.  [CCP Sec. 683.120].

The longest I heard of was one client who now owed more than $40,000 on a judgment for $10,000 that had been entered 40 years ago and renewed 3 times.

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