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I am being threatened with small claims over a purchase. Due to the economy I am unable to keep up with the agreed upon payment

Santa Maria, CA |

Can I just give the seller the item back? Can the court force me to pay her, can they force me to sell other items that are necessary for me to make a living? I don't have much in the way of assets and am barely scraping by in these hard times. The seller has been quite threatening towards me. I would really like to just give the item back but the seller states they don't want it back. If that is my only option can I make them take it back instead of continuing the payments? thanks

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Attorney answers 3

Best Answer

This is an excellent opportunity to utilize the mediation process with a third party mediator. You can often obtain free to low cost mediation on such matters. It would appear that both parties would benefit from understanding how a mediated settlement would serve the best interest of all.

Shawn Jackson - Business Development Attorney


No, you cannot force a seller to take back an item in lieu of payment of your debt. You promised to make payments, and if you fail to do so the seller can obtain a court judgment against you. Once judgment has been entered, the judgment creditor can seize your assets and garnish your wages to collect the money you owe.

There are, however, limits on asset seizures and wage garnishments. But if the creditor obtains a judgment against you, figuring out what those limits are and how to enforce them may be difficult. At that point your best bet may be to protect your assets through bankruptcy.


I agree with Attorney Barnes! Mediation will not work where you have no legal right to withhold payment.

My name is Stephen R. Cohen and have practiced since 1974. I practice in Los Angeles and Orange County, CA. These answers do not create an attorney client relationship. My answers may offend I believe in telling the truth, I use common sense as well as the law. Other state's laws may differ.. There are a lot of really good attorneys on this site, I will do limited appearances which are preparation of court documents it is , less expensive. However generally I believe an attorney is better than none, but many will offer a free consultation and a face to face meeting generally will be better, I like my clients to write a short one page history of the fact and questions they have prior to meeting with them, so nothing is forgotten.

Shawn Regis Jackson

Shawn Regis Jackson


Well, mediation, whether to establish or refute liability...or to make payment arrangements ...or simply to come up with other reasonable solutions is ALWAYS an option for disputing parties...and there are several no cost and low cost mediation services throughout the State.

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