If partial payments of a civil demand were paid, do I need to finish these payments once I’ve started?

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If partial payments of a civil demand were paid, do I need to finish these payments once I’ve started?

I was involved in a civil demand for a theft. The demand was for $450 for merchandise valuing $200. I was scared at first, so I began to pay each month of minimum payments but have recently learned that I can ignore these civil demands. I owe $125 and can’t afford to pay it. Since I began to pay, am I required by law to finish? I am afraid it will affect my credit score and I am at ends whether to settle it or ignore the rest of the collections.

Asked on April 2, 2012 under Bankruptcy Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If you stop paying, the other party can attempt to sue you for the money they claim you owe. (It's not a givenn they will sue, but they have the right to.) If they sue you and win, they will have a judgment against you, which can be reported against your credit and will substantially damage your credit. It could also potentially lead to wage garnishment or having your bank account levied on. If you did take the merchandise (and so legitimately owe something), it may be best if you can try to settle with them to pay an amount you can afford.


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