If you owe money to a creditor (credit card, loan, or medical debt, etc.) and you are delinquent on payments, the creditor can sue you in civil court and get a judgment against you. If the creditor can prove that you owe the debt (which it usually can), the creditor will get a judgment from the court. Once a creditor gets a judgment, the creditor can take action to force you to pay the debt. This includes garnishing up to 25% of your wages, putting a levy on your bank account, putting a lien on your house, and directing a constable to seize your property and sell it at auction. Often times a creditor will get a judgment, but the creditor doesn’t know what you have or where you work. In this case, a creditor who has a judgment can schedule a supplemental hearing with the court and require you to attend the hearing and answer questions under oath about your income and assets. The creditor will then use this information to seize the assets and start garnishments. If a creditor serves you with notice of a supplemental hearing and you don’t attend, the creditor can request that the court issue an arrest warrant for contempt of court (the arrest warrant is not for failure to pay the debt – it’s for failure to attend a required court hearing).
If you are going to file bankruptcy, you should try to file before a judgment is entered against you, although you can still file a bankruptcy case after a judgment is entered and it will stop the creditor from taking any further action on the judgment.