Assuming you don't have any defenses to knock back the amount owed, then I suggest the following strategy:
1) contact oppossing party and try to enter into a settlement
agreement that includes a payment plan. If you make a good faith effort to resolve the case,you make it harder for the other side to seek attorney fees and court costs. Litigation is expensive and always uncertain, so making a reasonable payment plan offer might just resolve the matter. You can and should be communicating with the Plaintiff's attorney in your effort to resolve.
2) if you can't resolve it, you need to respond to the suit, raise any defenses, object to any request for attorney fees/court costs. If you admit the debt, you probably will have judgment on the pleadings entered against you. But, if you admit the debt and don't have any defenses, there's no way to prevent an adverse judgment anyway. By being proactive, you show the court that you aren't shirking your obligation, but are simply not in a position to pay in full. That makes it harder, again, for the plaintiff to go after more money than the contract amount, such as prejudgment interest.
3) when an adverse judgment is entered against you, the Plaintiff can try to garnish wages and bank accounts. Again, try to enter a payment plan, which is at least as much as they could garnish (25% of monthly wages). Getting paymens is easier and less costly than garnishment.
Please let me know, if you have follow-up questions.
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