Debt Lawsuits in California Overview
This is the typical process for debt lawsuits in California. Select any phase shown below to learn more and get step-by-step instructions for your situation.
Resolve debt before you're sued
The creditor may send you collection notices and call you. You can try to resolve the debt or negotiate to avoid being sued.
Decide what to do if you are sued
If the creditor sues you (you received official court papers called a Summons and Complaint), you must decide whether to respond or forfeit your defense.
Respond and defend yourself
If you decide to defend yourself, you file a response with the court and pay a filing fee. Then, you officially let the other side know by having a copy of your response sent to them.
Prepare for your trial
This is usually the longest part of the process. You prepare your defense by gathering evidence (called discovery). You and the other side can try to reach an agreement.
Go to your trial
If the case isn't settled, you'll go to trial. The judge will decide who wins and put it in a judgment. This says who wins and who owes any money.
After the trial and judgment
If you do not win, the other side will get a judgment that says how much they're owed. Then, they can try to collect it from you.