A judgment is a court decision in a lawsuit that allows a creditor or a service provider, such as a home owner’s association (HOA) to collect past-due payments. To satisfy a judgment, a debtor can negotiate a repayment plan or a settlement with the creditor. He may also contact an attorney to file for a vacation of judgment or bankruptcy.
When you owe money to a service provider, such as a home owner's association, and do not pay it, the company can file a lawsuit against you with the local court to receive permission to levy your bank account or to garnish your wages. You will receive summons to attend a court hearing. If the court decides you owe the money, it will issue a judgment that allows the creditor to take further debt collection steps. Depending on the state you live in, judgments can remain in effect for up to 10 years. A creditor can attempt to collect debt any time during that period.
Negotiating With Creditor
Contact the service provider and try to negotiate a debt repayment schedule. Most creditors are willing to negotiate with debtors as garnishments, and levies require time and additional expenses. Once you reach an agreement, request it in writing. Oral agreements are difficult to prove if you need to go to court later. If you fail to make payments according to the agreement, the service provider may attempt garnishments and levies as long as the judgment remains in effect. Once you repay the debt, the creditor must send you a letter stating a satisfaction of judgment.
Removing the Judgment
You may contact a lawyer to see if you have a case to request a vacation of judgment. If you have a default judgment issued due to no response to the court summons, and you have a good excuse for not do so, an attorney can request a vacation of judgment. The court can also vacate the judgment if you can prove you have received a bad service from the home owner's association. If you believe you don't owe the money and can prove it, the court will remove the judgment based on the evidence.
If you have this and other debts you cannot pay, consider filing bankruptcy. Consult with an attorney to see if bankruptcy filing will remove the judgment. Bankruptcy cannot discharge certain types of debts. As long as the creditor does not object to the debt discharge, the court will release the judgment once the case has been discharged. When this happens, you no longer owe the money, and the creditor cannot attempt to collect it from you.