Vacating a Default Judgment
Financial problems don't happen suddenly. If you're suffering under a big financial burden, you've likely been struggling for a while. There may have been much back-and-forth between you and your creditors, and those creditors may have taken legal action. Perhaps you didn't have the funds to pay for a civil defense lawyer, or you didn't have the time to put together your own defense. Maybe so many notices and legal threats come your way that you didn't realize one was a legitimate demand for you to respond to a lawsuit.
For whatever reason, you did not respond, the case proceeded without you. The plaintiffs, or people filing the suit, obtained a default judgment against you. A default judgment can happen if the defendant, or person being sued, does not respond to a properly served lawsuit. Basically, it means the court decided that you lost your case by not showing up, and have to pay whatever judgment it determines. The court can then order that your wages or even your bank account be garnished, or taken, to pay this judgment.
By filing for bankruptcy, you may be able to discharge your debts — even debts that have resulted in a default judgment. The judgment can then be removed.
Bankruptcy Can Vacate a Default Judgment
At the Steiden Law Offices, Southern Ohio and Northern Kentucky bankruptcy attorneys have more than 25 years experience helping more than 6,000 people find a new start through bankruptcy, including many who have one or many default judgments against them. A default judgment is just one of many types of debts that we can help clients discharge. If you have default judgments, don't assume there is nothing you can do. Call (855) 741-3328 or send an online message to set up a risk-free consultation.
Eric Steiden and staff understand the difficulties that those considering a bankruptcy are dealing with and pride themselves in helping clients get through this difficult process. We are proud to serve clients in Hamilton County and throughout Ohio from our two offices in Cincinnati. We also can represent clients throughout Kenton County and Boone County, with offices in Covington and Florence.
How a Default Judgment Happens
If you're in debt, you've seen the many ways that creditors try to collect. One of those ways, often one of last resort, is for the creditor to use the courts and sue you for the money you owe. When they do that, they file a petition with the court, laying out how you owe them money. They are then supposed to get you the petition and a "summons." This is called "service," in which you are "served." In Kentucky, this must be given to you personally. In Ohio, you can also do it by certified or express mail or at a person's residence. If the court later determines you were not properly served, they will vacate any judgment against you.
If you are served and do not respond within a certain amount of time listed on the summons, the proceeding will go on without you, and the plaintiff will make a motion for entry of default. The court then enters a default judgment for however much money the plaintiff can prove.
You can have default judgments against you for any matter for which you can be sued — meaning you could have a default judgment from creditors, or for a personal injury matter, or a contract dispute.
Discharging the Underlying Debt Through Bankruptcy
When you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you are asking the court to discharge any debts you cannot pay. The trustee will liquidate, or sell, assets that are not exempt and pay off your debts, and the court will discharge the rest, except for certain debts that arise from certain specific sources, like domestic support obligations. Discharging a debt means the debt disappears, making bankruptcy an attractive option for those under the weight of tremendous financial strain.
The debt created under a default judgment is treated the same way. Therefore, the underlying debt may be discharged. However, discharging the debt does not mean the judgment automatically goes away. Once the underlying debt is discharged, you must move to remove the judgment, or else the judgment stays on county record and could be an encumbrance to selling real estate in the county.
Steiden Law Offices | Florence Bankruptcy Attorneys
Default judgments can be intimidating — especially if you have many. They can make you feel like you've already lost. But, really, most default judgments are like any other debt, and can be overcome by filing for bankruptcy. The Steiden Law Offices can help you with your debt. Call the experience Covington and Cincinnati area bankruptcy lawyers at Steiden Law Offices at (855) 741-332 or send an online message to set up a risk-free consultation.