How to Vacate A Default Judgment | UTLRadio.com
By Peter J. Lamont, Esq.
Did you know that there is a way out of a default judgement if one's been filed against you? I'm going to tell you how you can vacate a default judgement.
In a prior video, we've explained what a default judgement is, and it's essentially when you fail to answer or otherwise move when you're served with a summons and complaint. The plaintiff obtains a default judgement against you, meaning that whatever relief they've requested in their complaint, is being granted simply because you didn't respond.
How do you vacate a default judgement? Well, good news. First of all, the courts favor litigating cases on the merits, as opposed to giving someone a default, especially when money is involved. Here's how you do it: you have to file a motion to vacate the default judgement. There are two things that must be in every motion. It's going to vary from state to state, but in the majority of states, you've got to be able to show two things.
One: excusable neglect, a reason why you didn't answer the complaint, for example, you weren't served on time, you never received a copy of the summons and complaint. Two: a meritorious defense, meaning you've got to be able to show the court that you do have a defense and that there's a reason for them to vacate the default because you can defend the claim, because of a meritorious defense. It's just a tangible or real defense. Whether or you can prove it's a separate thing, but as long as you can show the court that you've got some defense, then they're going to vacate the default judgement.
There are times that you should not attempt to do this on your own, and that's the majority of the time. Quite frankly, I'm not a big believer in saying that every legal matter that pops up, you need an attorney for, because the truth is, is that a lot of things you can handle on your own, but once you've been served with a motion of default or a default judgement or any of those things, it's gone beyond the stage that you should be handling it.
In another video we talk about when you should handle something on your own and when you should not. Assuming that it is a relatively high judgement against you, and relatively high depends upon on your level of comfort; for some people a thousand dollar judgement may be really high, for others it's a ten thousand dollar judgement that's really high. You've got to gauge your level of comfort. In general, I always recommend consulting with an attorney when you have a default judgement against you, because, like I said, you're at the end of your rope. All they have to do now is seize your bank account or garnish your wages, and then you're really stuck and it's a lot more difficult to get out of that hole.
If you have a default, you can file a motion to vacate, like I explained, but it's always a good idea to talk to an attorney. I hope that you understand now a little bit of the dynamics of how to vacate a default judgement. If you'd like more information or if you'd like to see a sample motion, I encourage you to pick up the phone and give me a call. My telephone number is 973-949-3770, or you can e-mail me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'm available to take your calls, to answer your e-mails. I really want to help you understand the law.
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