How to Remove a Court Judgment

By Rebecca Sims
Vacating a court judgment can be difficult.

Bankrupt. Businessman with empty pockets (with clipping paths) . image by Vitaliy Pakhnyushchyy from Fotolia.com

Removing a court judgment against you is also known as vacating, cancelling or rescinding an order or judgment and rendering it null and void. Vacating a judgment can be done in a number of ways depending on the nature of the judgment against you. If an individual or business has sued you in court and is attempting to collect a judgment against you, you can try and settle your judgment out of court. The individual or business who holds a judgment against you can voluntarily vacate the judgment. You can also petition the court directly to vacate a prior judgment. State and Federal laws give the courts the authority to vacate or modify prior judgements.

Approach the individual or business that holds a judgment against you and attempt to settle. You can ask the party to accept a settlement that is less than the judgment, or you can ask the party to void the judgment. If the individual or business agrees to partial payment or no payment, ask that person or business to file a form called an "Acknowledgment of Satisfaction of Judgment" with the court within the time period specified by the laws of your state. Keep records of partial payment or settlement terms.

File a motion to vacate a prior judgment directly with the courts. Motions to vacate are governed by both state statute and by federal rules of civil procedure. Technical requirements for filing vary from state to state so research the laws in your state governing motions to vacate before filing. Motions can easily be thrown out on a technicality. After you file your motion directly with the court, notify the original plaintiff of your actions.

Have a compelling reason for filing a motion to vacate. The principles of federal civil procedure require that there be a serious and substantial issue to vacate a judgment. Substantial issues can include things like fraud, serious errors or new evidence. Inability to pay or a sense that the judgment is unfair are not compelling reasons to vacate a judgment.

Keep careful records of all paperwork regarding your case. Keep copies of your settlement agreement or satisfaction of judgment forms in the case of private settlement. If you are successful in your motion to vacate you will receive a document from the court stating that your case was dismissed. Keep this form, and all others, in case there is a problem later on with information on your credit record.

About the Author

Rebecca Sims is a librarian and educator, specializing in law, health sciences and education. She teaches classes in legal research, information technology, patient education, cataloging and digital asset management. Sims holds a Bachelor of Arts from the Academy of Art College and a Masters in library and information science.

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