Do not panic. You have some time (not much!) to consider your options. When you just received a notice of a lawsuit (i.e., summons and complaint), you have up to 30 days from the date that the lawsuit was served to you to file an answer to the lawsuit. If you fail to timely file an answer, your creditor will win the lawsuit by default. Next, your creditor will submit a request to the California Superior Court's clerk office for an entry of default judgment. The cost of filing an answer in the Superior Court of California, whether it is in Sacramento, Roseville, Woodland, Stockton, Modesto, or Fairfield, ranges from a couple of hundred dollars to over four hundred dollars depending on the amount of the claim. If you do not have a valid defense to your creditor's lawsuit, filing an answer will only buy you time but you will eventually lose and have to pay the judgment. If you plan to file for bankruptcy anyway, that money might be better spent on your bankruptcy case than on the answer. Consult a bankruptcy attorney immediately to determine if you qualify for bankruptcy relief and your bankruptcy attorney needs time to put together your bankruptcy case.
Once the court clerk issued the default judgment, your creditor does not automatically obtain wage garnishment, bank levy, or lien on your real estate. The creditor must take additional steps to finally collect from you. To obtain a wage garnishment, the creditor must locate your employer and have the sheriff served the wage garnishment order to your employer. To obtain a bank levy, the creditor must figure out who you bank with and have the sheriff served a notice of bank levy to your financial institution, who will freeze your bank account. You are given very little time to dispute the wage garnishment order and bank levy once in place. To place a lien on your house or other real estate, your creditor must record an abstract of judgment with the recorder's office in the county where you reside.
How fast this all occurs depends on your creditors. Depending on the debt underlying the lawsuit, Chapter 7 or 13 Bankruptcy might be an option for you. You should consult a bankruptcy attorney immediately before the lawsuit progress further. Muoi Chea, Bankruptcy Attorney Offices are in Sacramento, Stockton, and Fairfield, CA to help consumers and business owners throughout Northern and Central California cities.