I would suggest that you obtain copies of the court records, which may be easier than you think because lots of courts post all their records online. Get a consultation with a local attorney if you have a hard time understanding the records.
To make the debt disappear may take some effort. Creditors will often settle for less than $100% of you give them a lump sum amount. If you want to make payments, expect the creditor to demand a very high payment to avoid a garnishment.
If you have lots of other debts, bankruptcy could also be an option. Hope this perspective helps!
Do the following:
1) File a Claim of Exemption, stating that you need more than 75% of your earnings to pay for "necessities of life." There is no court filing fee. The forms are filed directly with the Sheriff (or other levying officer).
2) Get copies of the relevant court documents, including Complaint, Proof of Service, Judgment, and computations of post-judgment costs and interest. Consult an attorney and consider filing a motion to vacate the default judgment.
Do not rely upon any legal opinions or legal advise given by any debt collector.
If the default judgment is set aside, you may have good grounds to win the case because, after all these years, the plaintiff may not be able to locate and subpoena the witnesses whom it needs.
If you aren't challenging the judgment itself, you can file a Claim of Exemption along with a Financial Statement. A Claim of Exemption is a form a debtor files with the levying officer (like the sheriff) explaining why the wages that the creditor wants the debtor’s employer to garnish should be exempt (excluded).
The forms are:
Turn in 2 copies of the Claim of Exemption (Form WG-006) and the Financial Statement (Form WG-007) to the levying officer in your case (like the sheriff) within 10 days of receiving the Notice of Levy. Keep one copy of both forms for yourself.
Your employer will hold on to the money garnished until 10 days go by and the creditor hasn’t opposed the claim of exemption, or the judge makes a decision at the hearing on the claim of exemption. If the creditor doesn’t oppose your claim of exemption, your employer will return the wages to you. If the creditor opposes your claim of exemption, you will receive a Notice of Opposition to Claim of Exemption and Notice of Hearing on Claim of Exemption that will set a court date for a judge to make a decision. If the judge agrees with your claim of exemption, you will get the money back. If the judge agrees with the creditor, your employer will send the money to the creditor every month.
Frank W. Chen has been licensed to practice law in California since 1988. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice for a particular case. This Avvo.com posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, please consult with your own attorney.