Pay in Installments

You MAY be able to pay your judgment in installments by setting up a payment plan with the court or the judgment creditor.

First, you can try talking to the creditor to see if he or she is willing to work out a payment plan with you. Remind the creditor that you want to pay but that you just do not have the money to pay it all at once. The creditor may decide he or she would rather have some money a little at a time than nothing at all.

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 does not agree to a payment plan, you can try asking the court for one.

To ask the court to let you pay in installments:

  1. Fill out and file a Request to Make Payments (Form SC-220). Also fill out a Financial Statement (Form EJ-165).

  2. The court clerk will mail a copy of the request and financial statement to the creditor, along with a blank Response to Request to Make Payments (Form SC-221).

  3. The creditor has 10 days to tell the court that:
    • He or she will accept the proposed payment schedule;
    • He or she will accept payments in a different amount; OR
    • He or she does NOT want to accept installment payments.

  4. If the creditor does not respond within 10 days, the court will assume that he or she accepted your proposed payment schedule and will grant your request to pay in installments.

  5. If the creditor does not accept your proposed payment schedule, the court will probably hold a hearing to discuss your request and make a decision.

Note: This option affects the interest because it may stop all interest from accumulating until the entire judgment is paid off. So if you have questions about how a payment plan can affect you, talk to a lawyer or the small claims advisor. Click for help finding a lawyer.

If you have a court order to pay in installments and the judgment creditor has asked to cancel that installment plan

If the court gave you permission to pay the judgment in installments (a payment plan) and you stop paying or never made any payments, the creditor can ask the court that the payment plan be canceled and that the entire balance become due. If this happens, you have the right to respond to the creditor's request and explain your side of the story. You MUST do this within 10 days of getting notice in the mail that the creditor has made the request.

This is what will happen:

  1. The creditor will fill out and file a Declaration of Default in Payment of Judgment (Form SC-223) saying that you are in default on the payment plan, and giving details about the payments he or she claims you made and failed to make.

  2. The court will mail you a copy of the creditor's Declaration (Form SC-223) and also mail you a blank Response to Declaration of Default in Payment of Judgment (Form SC-224) to use if you want to respond to the creditor's Declaration.

    • Make sure you read page 2 of Form SC-224. It gives you important information on the process and what you must do.

  3. If you disagree with the creditor's Declaration and/or you do not want the payment plan canceled, fill out the Response to Declaration of Default in Payment of Judgment (Form SC-224). Make copies of the Response. One for you and one for each party in the case.

  4. Have copies of your Response (Form SC-224) served on all other parties in your case. This means someone 18 or older, not you, must mail a copy of your Response. Your server must fill out a proof of service for each party he or she serves. Then, your server must return that proof of service to you. Your server can use Proof of Service by Mail (Form SC-112A).

  5. File the original of your Response to Declaration of Default in Payment of Judgment (Form SC-224) and the Proof of Service with the court clerk. You MUST do this within 10 days of receiving the Declaration (Form SC-223).

  6. The court will then mail all the parties in the case (including you) an Order on Declaration of Default in Payments (Form SC-225) which will have:

    • A decision on whether or not to end the payment plan and have the full balance become due right away, OR

    • A notice to go to a court hearing to hear both sides in person and make a decision then.

  7. If the court's decision is that the full balance is due now the creditor can start collecting on the full amount right away.

  8. If the court sends you a notice for a court hearing, make sure you go to the court hearing. If you have proof that you made the payments the creditor claims you missed, bring that with you.