A WEALTH OF KNOWLEDGE ARCHIVES

Settling a Default Judgment

November 21st, 2011, byMichelle Singletary

Q: What options are available for settling a $14,000 default judgment filed in 2008 in California?

Santa Ana, CA

A: First, I should explain a default judgment.

One might end up with a default judgment when the debtor (or defendant) didn’t appear in court or respond to a complaint filed against him or her. California law does provide some room for a person to get relief from a default judgment, according to the Sacramento County Public Law Library.

You can ask for the judgment to be vacated if “actual notice” wasn’t given so that you could defend your case. You might be able to get the judgment set aside because of “excusable neglect.” Examples of excusable neglect according to the law library include:
• Illness that disables the party from responding or appearing in court;
• Failure to respond because you relied on your attorney to do so;
• Failure to appear at trial because you relied on misinformation provided by a court officer.

For more information about removing a default judgment, go to the website of the Sacramento County Public Law Library. You should also go to the California Department of Consumer Affairs’ site and read the section entitled “Setting Aside a Judgment Against a Party Who Didn’t Come to the Hearing.”

And, you should check with an attorney, because you may have passed the time in which you can ask the court to set aside your default judgment.

If you can’t get the judgment set aside, try talking to the debt collection company, especially before any action is taken to garnishee your wages. If you have a lump sum of cash saved up, the creditor might consider taking a reduced sum.

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Last modified: November 21, 2011 at 3:10 pm