How to Fight a Judgment

By Shailynn Krow

A judgment is a court ruling deciding in favor of a creditor on a debt that a consumer owes. If you have received notification that a judgment is being brought against you, it is your job as the consumer to fight that judgment. Judgments can stay on your credit report for seven years and affect your FICO credit score as well as give a creditor rights to garnish your wages to pay the debt. Some creditors do not take the legal steps before filing a judgment against a consumer; which means the consumer has the right to have the judgment dismissed.

Bring the judgment with you to the county clerk's office. Visit the same county clerk that is listed on your judgment and go within 30 days, since most judgments will no longer allow you to appeal after 30 days have passed. In some states, it is 10 days.

Request a Motion to Vacate from the county clerk in regards to your judgment. Fill out the form entirely and accurately. State why you did not present yourself at the court hearing in regards to your judgment. Reasons can include that you were out of town, you did not receive a summons or that you were ill.

Turn in the Motion to Vacate and the clerk will issue you a date to show in court to face a judge with your creditor.

Gather evidence you have in regards to the debt listed on the judgment. This can include receipts of payments, canceled checks and any correspondence between you and the creditor. Gather evidence for your reasons you were not able to show at the summons, which can include travel information, a letter from your doctor or your statement that you never received a summons. Remember that the creditor must prove that they provided you with a summons; which is hand-delivered by a process server. Go to the hearing and present your case on why you did not show to the summons as well as the validity of the debt you are having a judgment based on.

File an appeal in the event the judge does not grant your motion to vacate by visiting the county clerk's office for appeal paperwork. Be prepared to visit the courts again to appeal the decision on your vacate and prove your case again.

About the Author

Shailynn Krow began writing professionally in 2002. She has contributed articles on food, weddings, travel, human resources/management and parenting to numerous online and offline publications. Krow holds a Bachelor of Science in psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles and an Associate of Science in pastry arts from the International Culinary Institute of America.