Articles Tagged with charging order

Fotolia_178717790_Subscription_Monthly_M-300x125California creditors have a variety of tools available to enforce their legal rights. The appropriate tool will depend on the circumstances. For example, in some instances, a lien may be placed on real and/or personal property in order to protect or enforce a creditor’s rights.  In the case of a debtor’s interest in an LLC, a charging order may be obtained creating a lien against the debtor’s membership interest in the LLC. Learn more about what a charging order is, how it works, and when it is the best tool for a creditor. An experienced San Jose corporate attorney can help your business find the best tools for enforcing creditors’ rights against any debtor.

What is a Charging Order and When is it Appropriate?

When a creditor has obtained a judgment against a debtor, the creditor may obtain a variety of different orders or liens to enforce the judgment against the debtor’s assets. These can include a garnishment of the debtor’s wages, a levy of the debtor’s bank accounts, or the creation of a lien against the debtor’s real estate and personal property. When the debtor possesses an interest in a limited liability company (LLC), a court may issue to the creditor and against the debtor a charging order in order to allow the creditor to try to enforce the judgment against the debtor’s membership interest in the LLC.

Foreclosure of a Charging Order

Limited liability companies (LLCs) provide their owners (members) a number of protections that do not exist for partnerships or sole proprietorship’s. One critical protection is limited liability protection.  Because an LLC is considered a separate legal entity and its assets and debts are separate and distinct from any assets or liabilities that its owners may have, a creditor of an LLC member typically cannot reach or interfere with the LLC and vice versa. However, California law does provide a tool for creditors to try to reach a judgment debtor’s LLC interest. The tool is called a charging order.

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A charging order is roughly akin to a wage garnishment, but instead of directing an individual’s employer to pay over a portion of the individual’s salary to the creditor, it directs an LLC in which the individual judgment debtor has a membership interest to pay over any distributions that would otherwise be made to the member to the creditor. Notably, a charging order ordinarily cannot compel an LLC to make a distribution to a member and does not confer any management rights, instead extending only to distributions made to a member. For this reason, charging orders do not always result in payment to the creditor. Nonetheless, a charging order can still be effective because they can cut-off an LLC member’s rights to receive any distributions from the LLC and may impact the member’s dealings with the LLC and its other members.

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