You should pay the judgment against you as soon as it becomes final. If you do not pay, the creditor can start collecting the judgment right away as long as:
The judgment creditor has different legal options available to collect the judgment from you if you do not pay on your own. In response, you may also have options if these tools cause you an undue hardship. Click on the topic below for more information on your options.
You may be able to pay your judgment in installments or set up a payment plan.
First, you can try talking to the creditor and see if they are willing to work out a payment plan with you. Remind the creditor that you want to pay but you just do not have the money to pay the judgment all at once. The creditor may decide they would rather have a little money at a time than nothing. If you work something out, make sure all the details are in writing. The agreement should include due dates, grace periods (if any), if and how interest will accrue, where you should send the payments, what form of payment will be accepted, and who you should make the payments to. Make sure you keep detailed records and proof of your payments.
If the other side will not agree to a payment plan, you can try asking the court. You can file a motion to set up an installment payment plan. You will have to have the other side served so they can show up at the hearing if they want to oppose your request. The judge will make a decision at your hearing.
One of the main tools that the creditor can use to collect from you is a wage garnishment. The creditor can file papers in court to have a portion of your paycheck garnished (taken) to pay off your debt. But, the creditor can NOT take the part of your paycheck that you need to support yourself and your dependents. That part of your paycheck cannot be collected. See Code of Civil Procedure section 706.051 for more information.
If the creditor tries to garnish your wages, you can file a claim of exemption. See Code of Civil Procedure section 706.123 for a list of what you need to put in a claim of exemption.
Claim of exemption for wage garnishment
To file a Claim of Exemption for a wage garnishment
Within 10 days of receiving a copy of the wage garnishment:
Read Code of Civil Procedure section 706.123 for a list of what you need to put in a claim of exemption.
To oppose a Claim of Exemption for a wage garnishment
If the judgment creditor wants to oppose your Claim of Exemption, within 10 days of receiving a copy of the Claim of Exemption, the creditor must:
As a debtor, you can also file a claim of exemption if the creditor tries to levy or garnish any asset of yours other than your wages. See Code of Civil Procedure section 704.010 for a list of what you need to put in a claim of exemption.
Claim of exemption for a levy or other non-wage garnishment
A Claim of Exemption is a form a debtor files with the levying officer (like the sheriff or marshal) explaining why the property or money that the creditor wants to take should be exempt (excluded). There are laws and rules that say which types of income or property are exempt. You can read many of these exemptions in Exemptions From the Enforcement of Judgments (Form EJ-155).
To file a Claim of Exemption for a levy or other non-wage garnishment
Within 10 days from receiving the Notice of Levy:
To oppose a Claim of Exemption for non-wage garnishments
If the judgment creditor wants to oppose your claim of exemption, within 10 days of receiving a copy of the Claim of Exemption, the creditor must: