How to Have a Judgment From a Creditor Reversed

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A monetary judgment is a legal determination that one person owes money to another person. Sometimes, a creditor will obtain a default judgment against a debtor. This happens when the debtor does not appear for court and the judge enters a judgment against her in her absence. When that happens, the debtor may be able to reverse, or vacate in legal terms, the judgment. Vacating a judgment is not the same as appealing, nor does it mean that the debtor does not legally owe the money. When a judgment is reversed, or vacated, it simply puts the parties back in the position they were in before the judge entered the default judgment.

  • Obtain a copy of the judgment entered against you by the court. A copy may generally be obtained by contacting the court either in person, or by mail, and requesting a copy.

  • Prepare a motion to vacate judgment. Most small claims courts will have a form that may be used to prepare the motion. If a form is not available, the information that must be contained in the motion usually includes: names of the court and both parties; cause or case number; date that the judgment was entered and amount; a statement regarding the reason why the judgment should be vacated; and a statement that you have a meritorious defense to the lawsuit.

  • Make at least two copies of the motion. One will be served on the original plaintiff, or creditor, and the other is for your records.

  • File the motion with the court where the original judgment was entered.

  • Serve the original plaintiff, or creditor, with the motion. Allowable methods of service will vary by jurisdiction but generally include certified mail, or service by the civil sheriff or a process server.

  • Appear for court at the date and time set by the court if appropriate. In some cases, the court will vacate the judgment without setting a hearing while in others the court will require the parties to appear to discuss the motion.

Tips & Warnings

  • You must have a good reason for vacating the judgment. The most common reason is that you were not properly served with notice of the hearing or trial.
  • In addition, most courts require that you have a "meritorious defense" to the underlying lawsuit, meaning you must also plan to defend the lawsuit if the court vacates the outstanding judgment and gives you another chance.

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