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The best way to get rid of court-ordered debt is to pay it off as fast as possible. It will go on your credit report, and third-party debt collectors will harass you until you pay it.

Are you struggling to pay off court-ordered debt in California? You’re not alone. Many Golden State residents are overwhelmed by their financial obligations, and it’s easy to understand why. 

Fortunately, there are measures you can take to get rid of your court-ordered debt and regain control over your finances. In this article, we’ll go over some tips on how to handle court-ordered debt in California so that you can start putting money back into your pocket. 

An Overview of Court-Ordered Debt?

Court-ordered debt is a legal obligation that arises when a court of law demands a debtor to pay an amount to a creditor. This type of debt can include fines, penalties, and restitution to victims of crimes as well as attorney’s fees, court costs, and other such costs. 

Anyone who fails to keep up with such payments can expect severe consequences like the seizure of assets. 

As the responsibility falls solely on the debtor, it is essential that they do everything in their power to make debt payments or risk facing hefty punishments.

Various Court-Ordered Debts in California

In this state, debt that is owed to creditors can be ordered by the court in certain situations. These include such debts as spousal support, child support, and restitution of damages paid to victims of criminal offenses. 

Additionally, when a person files for bankruptcy in California, they may also be responsible for paying back court-appointed fines and charges associated with the filing. Not only should you understand the types of debt one can expect to pay if ordered by the court, but also what options are available for those unable to pay it back. 

Most courts offer payment plans or alternate forms of payment depending on individual circumstances.


A court typically orders a fine or penalty as punishment for violating a criminal law. Depending on the severity of the crime, the court may order you to pay a certain amount of money in fines, which are usually due immediately. 

If you fail to make these payments, the court could take action against you, such as seizing assets or garnishing wages.

Restitution – You Have to Make the Other Side Whole

Restitution is a payment that the court orders you to make for the benefit of someone who was harmed by your actions. 

The amount depends on the victim’s out-of-pocket expenses, such as medical bills or lost wages, and can be made up of money and property. 

Like fines and penalties, failure to pay restitution can result in serious consequences.

Civil Suits

Judgments are debts owed due to civil lawsuits. A court can order a judgment against you if you fail to pay a debt or violate the terms of a contract. Judgments can also be used to collect taxes, child support payments, and other debts. 

Once your creditor has obtained a judgment, they have the right to pursue legal action, including wage garnishment, liens against property, or a court order to seize assets.

You Can be Cour-Ordered to Pay Child Support and Back Payments

Child support is an important responsibility that should never be taken lightly. The court has the power to order you to pay a certain amount of money each month until your child reaches 18 years of age. 

If you fail to make payments, the court could take action against you. This is one of the few types of debts that can actually land you in jail.


Also known as spousal support, this type of court order requires one spouse to pay the other money to provide for their financial needs. 

The amount of spousal support can vary depending on factors such as length of marriage, income, and responsibilities outside the home.

What Are the Options for Paying Court-Ordered Debt in California?

First, you should sit back in your chair and take a deep breath. Debt isn’t a death sentence and it doesn’t have to ruin your life. Try to relax a bit, because options are available to help you solve this problem.

Pay It All in One Go

The simplest way to pay off court-ordered debt is to make a lump sum payment. This option may be preferable if you have the funds available and want to clear your debt as quickly as possible. 

However, it’s important to keep in mind that court-ordered debts are typically non-dischargeable, meaning they must be paid even after bankruptcy.

Come Up With a Plan…As in a Payment Plan!

If you don’t have the funds to make a lump sum payment, you can request a payment plan from the court or your creditor. 

The court may be willing to set up a package that will allow you to pay off your debt in smaller installments over time. Monthly payments are preferable if you don’t have the access to the funds you need right now.

Your Wages Can Be Garnished

The court or your creditor has the right and the ability to use wage garnishment to collect on a court-ordered debt. A certain percentage of your wages will be withheld monthly and used to pay off what you owe. 

It can be an effective way to pay off debt over time, but it can also put you at risk of not having enough money to cover basic living expenses.

They Can Tag Your Bank Account With a Levy

A bank levy is when a creditor or the court seizes a certain amount of money from your bank account and uses it towards paying off the debt. 

If you’re struggling to get by, this is the last thing you want to happen. So it’s vital you set up something with the court before they use this strategy against you.

Community Service Is a Possibility

In some cases, the court may offer community service to pay off debt. You will be required to perform a certain amount of hours of volunteer work and in exchange, that “sweat equity” will eventually cover the money you owe. 

More Payment Options for Court-Ordered Debt in California

We just covered the basic ways you can pay off debt. Now it’s time to go a bit more outside of the box. Not all of these options will be available to everyone, but they’re worth checking out.

Pay With Credit Cards

Did a parent ever give you a credit card and say, “This is for emergencies only”? Well, owing the court system money in California probably qualifies.

Sometimes, paying off court-ordered debt with a credit card may be possible. This can be helpful if you don’t have the funds available or if you need to make payments in smaller installments. 

However, it’s important to remember that making credit card payments will often result in added interest, meaning you’ll end up paying more in the long run.

Get Some Help – Financial Assistance Programs

If you cannot make payments on your court-ordered debt due to financial hardship, options may be available for assistance. 

The California Department of Social Services offers various forms of financial aid for those who qualify. Additionally, some creditors may offer their own forms of assistance, such as deferment or forbearance.

Knowing the Collection Process in California Will Help You Find Success

“Win before you begin.” This is an old cliche, but it’s relevant. The second you find out you’re in a combination of legal and financial trouble, it’s time to start doing your research. If you can afford it, speak with a qualified attorney to help you explore options.

Court–Ordered Debt – Who’s Coming After You?

In California, court-ordered debt is typically collected by either the court or a collection agency.

Court–Ordered Debt Collected – How Will They Come After You?

Court-ordered debt is typically collected either through wage garnishment, bank levy, or monthly payment plans. 

Additionally, some creditors may offer their own forms of assistance, such as deferment or forbearance. Understanding the collection process is important to ensure your rights are respected and your debt is paid off.

How Much Court–Ordered Debt Is Collected Annually?

In California, the amount of court-ordered debt that has been collected in recent years is difficult to determine. However, it’s possible to estimate by looking at the number of wage garnishments issued each year and the amount of money seized from bank accounts.

How Does California Measure Success?

The judicial branch measures success in collecting court-ordered debt by the payment rate. This means that if a debtor makes regular payments on their debts, it’s considered successful. 

The courts may also examine the number of debtors who have completed repayment plans or community service requirements.

Court–Ordered Debt Revenue Distribution

Revenues from court-ordered debt are typically distributed to the creditor and/or the county in which it was issued. It can vary depending on the type of debt and the state or local laws that govern it. 

Reviewing the Complexity of Fine and Fee Collection

The California Judicial Council set up a task force to review the complexity of fine and fee collection to ensure that debtors are treated fairly. 

It’s hoped that this task force will provide helpful recommendations on how to improve the collection process. This could include reducing or eliminating court-ordered debt, providing assistance for those who cannot pay, and increasing transparency in the collection process.

Assessment of Court Fees

The California Legislature has also recently passed a law that requires the assessment and distribution of court fees in a manner consistent with the Uniform Fee Schedule. 

The aim is to help ensure that debtors receive fair treatment regarding court-ordered debt collection.


What is the statute of limitations on court-ordered debt in California?

In California, the statute of limitations for court-ordered debt is four years from the date of judgment. Creditors have four years to collect on any court-ordered debt. 

After this time has passed, the debt may no longer be legally enforceable. However, it’s important to note that certain types of debts, such as student loan debt, may have a longer statute of limitations. 

It’s best to consult with an experienced attorney for more information about the statute of limitations for your specific type of debt.

How do I stop California state tax garnishment?

If you are facing a tax garnishment in California, the best course of action is to contact the taxing agency as soon as possible. You should be prepared to provide proof of your financial situation and explain why it would not be feasible for you to pay the debt.

What does court-ordered debt mean?

Court-ordered debt is money you owe due to a court ruling. Debts can include fines, restitution payments, or other costs associated with civil and/or criminal cases. Court-ordered debt must be paid in full and cannot be discharged through bankruptcy. 

In California, the courts have the power to seize assets and bank accounts to satisfy the debt.

Can you negotiate with the Franchise Tax Board?

Yes, it is possible to negotiate with the Franchise Tax Board (FTB) in California. The FTB may be willing to work out an installment plan or offer other forms of debt relief. It’s best to contact them directly to discuss your options and determine if a payment plan or additional assistance is available.

How to get out of court-ordered debt

Several options are available to those looking to get out of court-ordered debt. You can file bankruptcy, which may be able to wipe out or restructure certain types of debt, but it doesn’t work for everything.

More viable strategies include setting up a payment plan or finding a way to pay the debt in full as fast as possible.

Why do I have a court-ordered debt?

Court-ordered debt can arise from a variety of issues. It may be due to fines or restitution payments resulting from civil and/or criminal cases, or it could be due to unpaid taxes. 

In some cases, the debt may have been incurred after a judgment was entered against you in court.

FTB court-ordered debt phone number

The phone number for the Franchise Tax Board (FTB) in California is 800-689-4776. This is their phone line explicitly dedicated to their collections department.