In the field of debt collection and delinquencies, judgments and judgment risk factors are a very real concern. Will a creditor sue and seek legal judgment against me? If he does, what type judgment might it be? What exactly is a judgment and what can I do about it? These are just some of the questions answered in this judgment article. But please note. The content of this article is for consumer knowledge of judgments and legal lawsuits only and it is assume the reader will act responsibly towards his/her debt.
Collectors must abide by the their state's Statute of Limitations (SOL) for the amount of time to sue a debtor for payments. Therefore a consumer's first step is determine if the SOL for collecting a debt has past.
If the SOL has not passed, the consumer must weigh the risk factor of a judgment against them when determining if they should pay a delinquent debt. A judgment could allow the creditor to garnish wages or hire an authority to come get your property. However, it is possible it may not be in the creditor's best interest to do so. Sometimes it is simply too much time and expense for a creditor to take action against you. But the possibility does exist.
As stated at Credit Info Center: "The risks of judgments, garnishments, and property seizures must be properly balanced against the likelihood that such drastic collection measures will ever happen. The risk, and the decision to take that risk, are entirely yours if you're in such a position."
JUDGEMENT - a decision issued by a court at the end of a lawsuit. If in the favor of the creditor it not only verifies the debt but can increase the debt by adding interest, court costs, collection fees, and attorney fees an may extend up to 20 years on a credit file. A decision in favor of the debtor makes the debt uncollectible and may include reimbursement of legal costs to the debtor.
JUDGEMENT PROOF - a debtor has little or no property that a creditor can legally take to collect in the foreseeable future.
PRE-JUDGEMENT ATTACHMENT - a legal procedure which lets an unsecured creditor tie up property before obtaining a court judgment.
DEFAULT JUDGEMENT - If a consumer is sued and does not file papers in response to the lawsuit in the prescribed time limit, the plaintiff can ask the court to enter a judgement against the debtor and is an automatic loss of the case. A default judgment can be set aside but this is unusual and circumstances must be notable to justify such a turn.
LIEN - a lien is a notice that a creditor has attached property. The consumer cannot sell the property without paying off the creditor because the lien makes the "title" cloudy.
SECURED DEBT Property that is purchased using the property itself as collateral on the loan is considered secured. Credit cards are considered unsecured but tax debt is considered secured.
What can a creditor do?
Creditors from secured debts may be able to obtain a judgement for repossessions. Mortgagors can depose and landlords can evict. Garnishment or taking of wages is an option of any creditor. The decision to sue a debtor is usually based on the amount owed (usually over $500), the cost of getting it back, and whether there is a reasonable expectation that something can be collected.
If the matter can be sorted out with the person making the claim before it goes to court, it will be cheaper. If you lose in court, you risk having to pay the other side’s costs. Even if you agree that you owe the money but don't agree on the amount, you can try to negotiate the matter before it goes to court. If you reach an agreement, you will need to submit an agreement as to judgment form in the court, which tells the court that there is no need to have the matter heard.
Some judgments can be fought by challenging their validity. For example, default judgments at times can be reversed by claiming the debtor was never served or was ignorant of the facts. Before reversal, however, you must back up the claim with facts. Judgments which include selected stipulations, can be reversed if the debtor can prove coercion or misrepresentation. Of course winning an appeal in a higher court can reverse a decision as well.
Payment of Judgments
Once a judgment has been issued, settlement may still be an option if the debtor and creditor can come to terms. This is often the case when dealing with a temporary judgment-proof debtor who will have assets freeing in the future. The creditor may want the debt cleared sooner and might be willing to settle.
Contrary to popular belief, a judgment can be removed from a credit file by the creditor. This requires a fair amount of work and therefore the creditor would have to be motivated to do so in some way.
Readers will probably be interested to know Mike, the author of this article, also offers a free debt elimination mini-course via e-mail. You can enroll at Debt Free In 7.5 Years.
Mike has been an Internet Guide/Writer in the field of Credit/Debt Management for over 10 years. His site was awarded Best Of Net by Forbes Publication from 2000 to 2005 with site visitation doubling to over 500,000 average views per month in the last year.
He has also offered debt elimination seminars to businesses and community colleges for the last 9 years, and has written for several publications, and has been interviewed on the radio a number of times.