This post is not written to be legal in nature, otherwise it would be a whole heck of a lot more boring, rather I just want to highlight the basics of a Default Judgment and what to do if you find out there is one on your credit report. I have never practiced in this area, this is no where near an expertise of mine, but rather I was prompted to write this post after helping a couple of my family members, who had a default judgment in their name.
I want to highlight 3 distinct questions, and then I can expand on these areas if questions arise:
- What is a default Judgment?
- How will a DJ affect your personal finances? and
- What to do if you get hit with something like this.
Before we get started, this post is not intended as legal advice, but rather just an introduction into the topic and as a starting point to discuss your situation with your legal or financial professional.
What is a default judgment?
Findlaw, an invaluable resource to those attorneys and non-attorneys, who need a legal definition, defines a default judgment simply as,
a judgment entered by a court after an entry of default against a party for failure to appear, to file a pleading, or to take other required procedural steps
Simply put, a default judgment is nothing more than a judgment obtained because defendant didn’t show up. This is the most basic definition and depending on your particular state there may be a more expansive defintion (i.e. a judgment predicated on a failure to produce evidence).
If you purposefully ignored a subpoena then you have a larger hurdle to overcome, but if you have no idea where it came from then continue to question #2. If you ignored subpoenas and now there is a judgment…get an attorney. Similarly, I implore anyone reading this,
IF YOU GET ANY LETTER FROM ANY U.S. ATTORNEY DO NOT IGNORE IT
Whenever I someone contacts me about a situation like this, I ask for all correspondence from attorneys, if there are any. Our constitution affords us the protection of Notice of any suit which is brought against a citizen as such every state has some sort of law associated with notice/service of a subpoena. Some states let you do a nail and mail (i.e. affix subpoena to the door and then mail a copy – NY Language), some do not, some let you serve people at work, some do not.
How does a DJ affect your personal finances?
A simple google search of Credit Report and Judgment provided a great wiki answer,
The Fair Credit Reporting Act [15 USC Section 1681c]
(a)Information excluded from consumer reports…
(2)…civil judgments…that from date of entry, antedate the report by more than seven years or until the governing statute of limitations has expired, whichever is the longer period.
So, 7 years from the date of entry, or longer, if your state has legislation which allows it report longer.
Here is input from others:
* A judgment remains on a consumer’s credit report for 7 years from the “date of entry, or until the governing statute of limitations has expired, whichever is longer”. This time period applies to each legal action. Under certain circumstances and certain state’s laws, judgments can be renewed. The renewal of a judgment would allow it to show on a credit report for 7 years from the date of renewal, if allowed by state law.
* Generally seven, although most judgments are renewable in which case it could be on a cr a very long time. If paid it would be listed as “satified” and be expunged after the 7 years expired.
What do you do if you find out there is a Judgment out there?
Call a licensed attorney and get your butt down to the court house where the judgment was issued and see the pro se department.
Anyone have any experiences?