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Creditor has a judgment against me, now what?

Richardson bankruptcy lawyer explains judgmentsLawsuits can be stressful and it can be ever more stressful if a creditor gets an actual judgment against you.

A judgment is simply a piece of paper signed by a judge stating that a creditor (or plaintiff) has won the lawsuit and is entitled to something.  Typically, the judgment will be an award of a certain amount of money, for you which you will be responsible for.

If you can avoid a judgment, that is always the first step but let’s assume the judgment has already been entered by the court, what can you do?

First, you need to make sure you receive a certified copy of the judgment.  If you don’t already have a copy, contact the creditor’s attorney and request one.

Second, you may have valid reasons to appeal the judgment.  For instance, maybe the creditor or plaintiff did not properly provide you notice of the lawsuit.  If that is the case, you would have a right to appeal the judgment and get a new trial.  If you think there is a service issue, then you need to contact an attorney as soon as possible.  Different courts have different timelines, so don’t wait too long.

If you cannot appeal the judgment or don’t have the money to hire an attorney to appeal, then you need to consider the following options:

* Bankruptcy – Filing a bankruptcy can discharge any debt associated with the judgment, leaving the creditor or plaintiff with no recourse.  If the debt is eligible for a discharge, then filing bankruptcy will stop the creditor in his or her tracks.  If the debt is discharged, there is nothing the creditor can do.

* Debt Settlement – At this stage it is a little more difficult to negotiate favorable terms, however, you still may be able to structure a reasonable payment plan and/or settle the judgment for less than the amount owed.  I would recommend having an attorney help you negotiate.

In any case, most attorneys offer free consultations.  In order to make the best decision for yourself, you need information.  Talk to an attorney first about all your options.The sooner the better.Remember; anytime you are dealing with litigation or judgments, there are typically strict deadlines involved.