How long do I have to sue someone who owes me and I have a promissory note?

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How long do I have to sue someone who owes me and I have a promissory note?

Over the course of about 5 years, I made my ex-boyfriend several loans. Each time with a promissory note which includes the current amount of what he owes me. Hes never had a job and has defaulted on each deadline I’ve made. The last updated promissory note was made about 7 months ago, and he was supposed to make first payments this past March. He has since gotten a job (this motnh) but he has not contacted me to pay me back. He owes me a little over $3000. How long do I have to sue him and can the state force him to pay me what he owes me?

Asked on May 3, 2012 under Bankruptcy Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

The statute of limitations, or time to initiate or bring a lawsuit, in California for promissory notes is 4 years (you use the same statute of limitations as for a written contract). Therefore, you have up to four years from when your ex-boyfriend failed to pay on the note (from what your write, four years from this past March) to sue.

If you sue and win and he still does not pay, you can then try to recover the money from him by garnishing his wages, by having court officers levy on (take money from) a bank account, execute on (seize and sell) personal property (such as a vehicle or big screen TV), or put a lien on real estate. Doing these things can be somewhat complex, and will require some work on your part, but there are mechanisms available to you to collect.


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