Victoria Legal Aid

Creditors' options

Describes the steps a creditor can take to recover debt if the court makes a judgment against you.

Once a judgment has been made in a creditor’s favour, the creditor (the person or organisation that is owed money) can apply to the court for one of the enforcement orders listed on this page.

Usually the action a creditor takes depends on whether the debt is 'secured' over some property (for example, a house or a car), which the creditor can take and sell to satisfy the debt, or unsecured. The secured creditor can also use remedies available to unsecured creditors, but only after the security has been sold and only for the amount still owing (if any) once the security has been sold.

Summons for oral examination

This is a hearing to find out about your income, expenses, assets and liabilities. See Summons for oral examination.

Instalment order

This is a court order that requires you to pay the debt by instalments. You or your creditor can apply for this. See Instalment orders.

Attachment orders

When someone owes you money, and you owe money to somebody else, the court can make orders about what happens to the money owed to you. This is called ‘attachment’.

For example, the court can 'attach' wages that you earn, or a debt that someone owes you.

Attachment of earnings

This court order tells your employer to pay an amount out of your wages to your creditor. Currently, in Victoria no more than 20 per cent of your after-tax pay can be taken out. If your only income is from Centrelink, you cannot be made to pay.

Attachment of debt

This court order tells a person who owes you money to pay that money direct to your creditor. An attachment of debt can be made against a bank account that you have savings in, but not against a Centrelink allowance or benefit.


Warrants are directions from the court to the sheriff or police to carry out court orders. If you receive a warrant, get legal advice quickly. See Warrants to seize and sell property.

Creditor’s petition for bankruptcy (sequestration order)

If the court order is more than $10000, a creditor can ask for a court order for your bankruptcy. If the order is made, a bankruptcy trustee gets control of your debts and assets. The trustee has to work out if, and how much, your creditors can be paid.

Creditors will probably take this action if they believe you have valuable things or that you are avoiding a debt you can pay. Get other support for debt and financial issues. There are good reasons for you to apply for bankruptcy first.

Other support

Find out how you can get other support for debt and financial issues.

Disclaimer: The material in this print-out relates to the law as it applies in the state of Victoria. It is intended as a general guide only. Readers should not act on the basis of any material in this print-out without getting legal advice about their own particular situations. Victoria Legal Aid disclaims any liability howsoever caused to any person in respect of any action taken in reliance on the contents of the publication.

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Reviewed 07 April 2022

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