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What To Do If You Can’t Make A Court-Ordered Settlement Payment?

Posted by Marcus Steverson | Jun 21, 2023

If you're reading this, chances are good that you or a loved-one has been sued, and had to make arrangements to satisfy their demand for money (damages) through a payment plan as settlement of the debt that you owe them. But what happens if you cannot afford to make your monthly settlement payment on time?

In the overwhelming majority of cases, if you do not make a settlement payment as you agreed to do, the court can become involved and enter a judgment against you for the amount you haven't paid the other party, even if the matter was dismissed years ago.  Often times, additional damages such as extra court costs or fees to “re-open” the case can be tacked on, and you'll find yourself suddenly owing more money.

That said, what do you do if you've found yourself running late or unable to make a payment on the day it is due?

  • Stay in Communication.

In virtually every case, the other party/creditor that you're paying wants to get the money you owe them, and not just request that the court enter a judgement. At the end of the day, a judgment is just an official piece of paper from the court saying that you owe money, but the court does not seize what you have and give it to the Plaintiff. They have to do extra work to collect from you. If you stay in contact with the other party to keep them informed about your willingness to honor the settlement and ask for more time, many will work with you.

  • Contact other party or their attorney to ask for an extension.

Make a reasonable request for an extension based on your needs. Contact the other party (or their attorney if they have counsel), and ask them to move the payment date for your settlement payment by a week or so to enable you to continue making the agreed upon payments. Inform them of your hardship so they have a basis to accept your request for an extension, as many corporate organizations will have criteria for being willing to grant an extension. Importantly, if possible, request that they provide their approval for the extension in writing (for example, ask that they send you an email saying it is okay to pay a week late this month) so that you can rely upon that if needed.

  • Monitor the court docket.

In Florida, court records are publicly available through the online docket for the county where the case was filed. You should also be receiving any court documents filed in your case either by mail or email. If you're running late on payments, be sure to watch your court file to see if Plaintiff has made a motion to the court requesting that judgment be entered against you for defaulting on your payment plan. If they have made such a request, it is important that you fix the problem by paying as soon as possible, and that you file a document of your own with the court stating that you have “cured” the default by making the payment. If you wait too long to file your own documents, the court may assume there is no objection and enter a judgment in favor of the other party.

  • Pay as soon as you're able.

Don't wait until it's too late. As soon as you become able to make your agreed-upon settlement payment, do so! If you can demonstrate to the court that you have made you payments as promised to the other party, they won't be able to enter a judgment against you. The sooner you get your payment made, the better! Sometimes, you might even be able to make the payment before the other party even notices you're late.

Retaining the counsel of an attorney, like those on staff at Holland Law Group, can be quite helpful if you find yourself needing to negotiate with your creditor to resume payment plans. Holland Law Group does debt defense all day, every day, and has trained legal staff with years of experience in matters of debt settlement. We understand who to contact and what to look for. If you are in need of assistance on any matter of debt settlement, please contact us at (941)-744-5450 for a no-cost consultation about some realistic settlement options we can help you achieve!

About the Author

Marcus Steverson

Marcus Ray Steverson earned his Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies from the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Florida. He then went on to attend Barry University School of Law, graduating in the top third of his class, and has been admitted to the Florida Bar since 2016.  Marcus has ex...

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