How to ask for a default and a default judgment
If the defendant didn't file a response by the deadline, you can ask the court to enter a default. A default ends the defendant's chance to file a response because the defendant has not responded in time. You must ask for a default within 10 days of the defendant missing the deadline to respond. Once you have a default (or at the same time as you file for entry of the default), you can ask the court to decide the case in a default judgment.
Before you start
Check the defendant's military status
To get a default judgment, you will need to find out the defendant's military status and let the court know what you find on the court forms. You'll need to take more steps to get a default if the defendant is on active duty in the U.S. military.
You can ask for a default and a default judgment at the same time or in 2 steps
You need to ask for a default within 10 days of the defendant missing their deadline to respond. Defaults and default judgments are separate steps. The forms are technical so you can do them one step at a time. This is not required. If you are ready, you can also ask for a default judgment at the same time. If you're not ready, you'll need to ask for the judgment within 45 days of getting the default.
Fill out request for default
Make sure the defendant's name is exactly as you wrote it on the Complaint. If it does not match, the court clerk cannot give you a default.
At the top of the form where it says request for, check "Entry of Default."
- If you're also asking for the judgment at the same time, check which type you want, clerk or court.
- If you are only asking for a default as the first part of the two-step process, you do not need to complete 1.d., 1.e, or 2 on page 1 of the form. You will need to complete parts 4, 5, and 6 on page 2. Parts 7 on page 2 and 8 on page 3 are part of asking for a default judgment.
If ready, also fill out forms to ask for a judgement
1. Judgment (form JUD-100)
Check at the top if you are asking for a clerk or court judgment. Do the same in item 1, d or e where you select a judgment by the court or the clerk.
The amount you are seeking in part 2 on page 1 of the form needs to match what you asked for in the complaint. As a matter of fairness, you cannot ask for more in a default judgment than what was requested in the complaint.
In item 6, make sure what you put matches exactly what you wrote in the Request for Default.
In general, you can only ask for a clerk judgment if the case was about a contract or an open book account. In those cases, if the contract makes clear what you're owed, the clerk may be able to process the judgment. In other cases, you'll need a court judgment so a judge can review what you've asked for.
For more help, you can use the step-by-step guides from the Sacramento County Law Library.
These explain the process and forms you can use, though your local court may have different forms for you to use.
2. Memorandum of Costs (form MC-100)
Fill this out to include any filing fees or costs for service in what the defendant owes you. If you aren't asking for any costs, you don't need to fill this out.
3. Declarations for court judgments or interest owed on a contract
- If you're asking for a court judgment, you need to write a Declaration that says who is who in the case, the legal reason you filed the lawsuit, what evidence you have that proves your case, and what interest, if any, the defendant owes you. You can find the full list of what needs to be included in California Rule of Court 3.1800. You can likely find samples or guides to help you at a law library.
- If your case is about a contract and you asked for interest (like interest owed from a loan), you will also need to write a Declaration that explains how you calculated the interest that you are owed. Usually, the contract says how much interest you can charge. If it doesn't, it's generally 10%, which is the legal rate.
Mail copies to the defendant
Make at least 2 copies of everything. The original is for the court. The copies are you for and each defendant. Have the other adult mail the copy to the defendant.
After they've mailed the Request for Default, the person who mailed it needs to fill out and sign the Declaration of Mailing on Page 2 on the original and copies.
For everything else, the server needs to fill out and sign a Proof of Service by First-class Mail (form POS-030)
Bring the Request for Default to the court clerk. If you're also asking for a default judgment, turn in those forms as well along with the signed Proof of Service.
If you asked for a court judgment, the clerk may set a court date in case the judge has any questions about your Declaration.
Generally, after you have a judgment, you can start to collect your judgment. It is possible that the defedanant may ask to cancel (set aside) the judgment. Both defaults and default judgments can be canceled, but there are usually time limits for the defendant to ask to cancel a default or default judgment so they can participate in the case.