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Advice on Court Summons for Debt

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Mark Cappel
UpdatedMay 10, 2024
Key Takeaways:
  • Never ignore a summons, if you receive one.
  • Consult with an attorney, to fully understand the extent of harm you can suffer.
  • Try to negotiate a lump sum settlement.

I received a court summons for approx. $1400. I am willing to work out a payment plan so I can avoid getting a judgment.

I received a court summons for approx. $1400. I am willing to work out a payment plan/settlement so I can avoid getting a judgment and not going to court. They will only settle for $1200. I was wondering, is that logical? I tried contacting the original creditor and they said that it isn't with them anymore it's with the law office that served me the summons. I once settled a $4000 credit card for $1100, so I don't understand how this particular agency won't (maybe can't?) go any lower.

First of all, I am not an attorney, so I cannot provide you with legal advice. You may want to consult with an attorney in your area regarding this legal matter. However, I will provide you with some general information that may help you in resolving this matter.

The civil suit papers or court summons you refer to in your question are frequently called a Summons and Complaint. The summons, which should be the first page of the documents you received from the court, should state the time period in which you have to file a response to the complaint with your local courts. If you decide that you would like to respond to the complaint, the court clerk should be able to provide you with the necessary forms.

I would recommend that you attempt to resolve this debt with the creditor or the creditor’s attorney before they take any further collection action. If you obtain a fairly sizeable portion of the balance, the creditor may be willing to settle the debt. For example, if you can offer 60% of the outstanding balance in a lump sum payment, the creditor may be willing to forgive the remaining balance and dismiss the court case. Contact the creditor’s attorney to discuss settlement of the debt and keep trying to negotiate. If you come to a dead-end there, you have the option to set up a payment plan.

If you cannot access a lump sum to settle the debt, the creditor may be willing to accept monthly payments to stop further collection activity, but will probably not dismiss the case against you. The creditor will want to obtain a judgment against you just in case you do not make your scheduled monthly payments. Again, contact the creditorÂ’s attorney to discuss possible repayment plans and ask them about a stipulated judgment payment plan.

If you do not resolve this matter, the creditor will likely obtain a judgment and proceed to attempt to collect on the judgment. Depending on the state you live in, judgment execution could include wage garnishment, bank levies, and property liens, and other actions. I encourage you to speak with an attorney licensed in your area to discuss the implications of a judgment against you, and what is the best course of action to resolve the account. You can review your own state's collection laws and statutes of limitations.

For more information about debt, and for debt help resources, I encourage you to visit the Debt Help page.

I hope this information helps you Find. Learn. Save.



Struggling with debt?

If you are struggling with debt, you are not alone. According to the NY Federal Reserve total household debt as of Quarter Q4 2023 was $17.503 trillion. Student loan debt was $1.601 trillion and credit card debt was $1.129 trillion.

According to data gathered by from a sample of credit reports, about 26% of people in the US have some kind of debt in collections. The median debt in collections is $1,739. Student loans and auto loans are common types of debt. Of people holding student debt, approximately 8% had student loans in collections. The national Auto/Retail debt delinquency rate was 4%.

Each state has its rate of delinquency and share of debts in collections. For example, in Illinois credit card delinquency rate was 3%, and the median credit card debt was $397.

While many households can comfortably pay off their debt, it is clear that many people are struggling with debt. Make sure that you analyze your situation and find the best debt payoff solutions to match your situation.



sshaheen a, May, 2011
i live in nort carolina i got summon from the court my credit card debt 12000. ler me know what should ido thanks
BBill, May, 2011
Consult with a North Carolina lawyer who has experience in consumer law or civil litigation to learn how to respond to a summons properly in your state.
BBill, Mar, 2010
No, it is not too late to file bankruptcy after a judgment is filed. However, you need to research whether you qualify. Consult with a California attorney who has experience in consumer bankruptcy.
LLeo, Mar, 2010
I'm in CA, Alameda County to be exact. I recently received a summon for a CC debt which I plan to work with the CC company to get into a settlement and repayment plan. If I cannot get into an agreement, I plan to respond to the summon and show up in court to explain my financial situation. My salary is in the median for single earner and after all bills are paid each month, I just don't have anything left.Here is my question: If I go to court and ordered to pay for what I owe plus interest and fees, is it too late to file for bunkruptcy?
NNathan, Apr, 2009
Depending on the type of bankruptcy you filed for in 2004, you may or may not be able to file for it again. You should check with a bankruptcy attorney to see if you qualify. About the summons, you still have time to reach some sort of a payment arrangement with the creditors, but you should also not ignore the summons. You need to present yourself in court and explain your situation to the judge. If you do not go, then a default judgment will be passed against you for which the creditor might get the court to order wage garnishments.
AAngelica, Apr, 2009
If I filed for Bancruptcy in late 2004 but find myself in a worse financial situation now, my home was foreclosed and I could owe deficiencies on our home and debt from the 2nd mortgage and credit card debt...can I still file for bancruptcy? I don't have any way to pay lumpsum payments for a recent $7,000 credit card summons...what can i do to prevent creditors from garnishing my wages?