How to Vacate a Judgment

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A court order or a previous legal judgment can be canceled or rendered null and void. A vacated judgment usually results from an appellate court's overturning, reversing or setting aside a lower court's judgment. A party may also be relieved from an adverse judgment due to a mistake, fraud, newly discovered evidence or when a judgment has already been satisfied. Some civil rights can be restored on vacation of the judgment. (Reference 1)

Research and study the rules of civil procedures, which may vary from state to state. Accurately follow these procedures, as following incorrect procedures can result in the case being thrown out on a technicality.

Obtain and prepare the Notice of Motion to Vacate Judgment form from the court clerk. The case name, court reference number and parties involved should be identified. State reasons for filing the motion and procedural defenses or reasons for not responding to the complaint and summons during the hearing.

File the Motion and Declaration to Vacate Judgment and an Order to Show Cause with the court clerk. Submit the typed motion to the court clerk. Fill out any additional forms and pay any filing fees.

Send certified copies of the motion to the original plaintiff through certified mail with return receipt. Keep the return receipt.

Serve the notice of summons. Some courts provide this service, but a third-party service provider can often be hired for a nominal fee. The new court hearing date will be set, and notifications will be sent to all parties.

If the plaintiff offers to settle out of court, ask the plaintiff to file paperwork requesting the court to dismiss the suit. Send court documentation showing the dismissal to collection agencies or credit bureaus involved in the case.


  • It is always best to get legal assistance from a licensed attorney. Free legal help may be available depending on the state and the filer's circumstances.


About the Author

Since 2008 Kaycee Whitney has been tutoring students in the areas of English and mathematics and has more recently started working as a copywriter in Florida. She is working on bachelor's degrees in elementary education and criminology from the University of Miami.