If you have absolutely no defense, you can propose making installment payments. There are two possibilities for arranging an installment agreement.
1. You can talk directly to the plaintiff as part of a negotiation. This will depend on your assessment of how “open” the other side might be to that suggestion. If the two of you reach an agreement on the installments, you should have the written agreement entered as part of the order from the court. This means going to the court and telling the judge that you reached an agreement. The advantage is that the plaintiff cannot change his/her mind in the future and harass you for the entire amount without going back to court.
2. You can go to the trial and speak with the judge. Be prepared to make a good argument.
A good argument means a summary of why you need to pay in installments and how you will be responsible for paying. Example – “I have just gone back to work after being out of work for 10 months. My bills are just about three quarters of my income. I can pay $30 every other week for 12 months to pay it off. I simply do not have the savings to be able to pay it all back now.”
A bad argument describes all of your personal problems but does not offer a clear plan for how the installment plan might work. Example – “I have had a really hard time getting a job because of the problem with my leg and the buses do not go by my house. I have a lot of other debts and my daughter has been sick. My car was repossessed and now I really need to take the bus to my job. I can’t pay back the money but maybe I could pay something periodically.”