Old default judgment, do I need a bankruptcy attorney? 25 Answers as of August 26, 2011

I just found out that there is a default court judgement against me in 2006. That was an old credit card debt, but some law firm won the judgment against me. But i was never served any court summons, as they claimed in court that delivered summons at my old address in 2006, but i moved from that address in 2004. I want to solve it, as i am trying to buy a house now. Should i pay it to law firm? Do i need a bankruptcy or business attorney to talk to the law firm?

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Heupel Law
Heupel Law | Kevin Heupel
You have two options. Pay the debt or file bankruptcy. If you file bankruptcy, then buying a home may not be possible for another two years. Thus, you have to consider the ramifications of deciding which course of action to take.
Answer Applies to: Colorado
Replied: 8/26/2011
Mercado & Hartung, PLLC
Mercado & Hartung, PLLC | Christopher J. Mercado
You will need to make a motion to vacate the judgment. You should hire an attorney.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 8/25/2011
The Law Offices of Kristy Qiu
The Law Offices of Kristy Qiu | Mengjun Qiu
If you plan to pay for it, you can do it yourself, you don't need a lawyer. If you want to fight it, yes bankruptcy can remove all of it. If you pay your bills on time after bankruptcy, the net effect will be more or less +90 of your current score according to the credit bureaus. If you plan to file for bankruptcy, I do recommend you hire a lawyer because 90% of pro se cases would end up being dismissed or worse.
Answer Applies to: Florida
Replied: 8/12/2011
Burnham & Associates
Burnham & Associates | Stephanie K. Burnham
In New Hampshire creditors have 20 years to collect on a judgment. You should speak with an attorney to discuss your options, you will need to resolve the debt. Filing a Bankruptcy will hold up purchasing property.
Answer Applies to: New Hampshire
Replied: 8/12/2011
Janet A. Lawson Bankruptcy Attorney
Janet A. Lawson Bankruptcy Attorney | Janet Lawson
They often get default judgements without actual service. Unfortunately it too difficult and expensive to get them set aside. Your options are (1) pay them, (2) try to settle with them, or (3) file a bankruptcy. You may need to hire a lawyer to resolve it.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 8/11/2011
    Bankruptcy Law office of Bill Rubendall
    Bankruptcy Law office of Bill Rubendall | William M. Rubendall
    A default judgment is a judgment. A judgment can be paid in full to satisfy it. Bankruptcy is an alternative, but you should seek the advice of an attorney as to whether bankruptcy should be filed.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/11/2011
    Bird & VanDyke, Inc.
    Bird & VanDyke, Inc. | David VanDyke
    Going back in time on the judgment to have it set aside for lack of service may be difficult. No doubt in the court file is a proof of service that satisfied the court. You can certainly file bankruptcy on it but if the debt is not to large you may try to settle it for a lump sum cash offer. You could probably attempt this yourself.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/11/2011
    Dan Wilson Bankruptcy
    Dan Wilson Bankruptcy | Dan Wilson
    This is a tough one. I will give you my thoughts. First, service in the lawsuit. Unfortunately it is all too common for debt collectors to do sloppy service. Service must be in person. After service the collection attorney then files a Certificate of Service with the court. If you were never served you don't know you are being sued and the attorney gets a default judgment. Its possible you could challenge service after the fact; I've never done it and I suspect it would be expensive. It would depend on how big the judgment is whether it would be worthwhile. Can you discharge the judgment in bankruptcy? Yes, but it will have a negative impact on your credit score. Might make it impossible to buy a house until you improve your credit score. It might make sense to settle the debt. Creditors are usually willing to settle for 50% or less, but you have to have cash.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 8/11/2011
    Tucker Legal Clinic
    Tucker Legal Clinic | Samuel Tucker
    I would have a lawyer negotiate this. Once the defective default is set aside the credit card debt will be out of the statute of limitations. Then have reference removed from credit report.
    Answer Applies to: Mississippi
    Replied: 8/11/2011
    Theodore N. Stapleton, PC
    Theodore N. Stapleton, PC | Theodore N. Stapleton
    You could file a motion to vacate the judgment based upon lack of service but the question is whether you owe the debt anyway. You could discharge the debt and other debt in a chapter 7 if you qualify. I am happy to discuss these issues with you.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 8/11/2011
    Paul Stuber, Attorney at Law
    Paul Stuber, Attorney at Law | Paul Stuber
    Certainly a bankruptcy would clear up an old judgment but I am not sure that it would be the best step for you without looking at the entire picture. You could work out something with the judgment attorney or you could reopen the civil case. You should check if a bankruptcy would hurt getting the loan on the new home before you go that route.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 8/11/2011
    Diana K. Zilko, Attorney at Law
    Diana K. Zilko, Attorney at Law | Diana K. Zilko
    If you're planning on buying a house and need a loan, it is best to work out a deal with the creditor and have your credit report updated to show the debt was satisfied. A bankruptcy will affect your ability to obtain a loan for at least a few years.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/11/2011
    Ray Fisher Law Offices
    Ray Fisher Law Offices | Ray Fisher
    You can use a bankruptcy to get rid of this debt. It depends on your income and asset structure whether you can file a chapter 7 or 13. You can always hire a lawyer to try to negotiate settlement of the debt for a smaller amount as well.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 8/11/2011
    The Law Office of Mark J. Markus
    The Law Office of Mark J. Markus | Mark Markus
    You can either hire an attorney to fight the state court judgment by claiming you were never served, but all that would happen if you won that, is that the case would be reopened, they'd serve you, and then the case would go to trial. Unless you dispute that you owe the debt, that would be a meaningless exercise. You should either try to negotiate a settlement, or consider filing bankruptcy to get rid of it. Which is better depends on the amounts involved, and your finances. You should consult with a bankruptcy attorney in your area.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/11/2011
    Law Offices of Joseph A. Mannis
    Law Offices of Joseph A. Mannis | Todd Mannis
    The judgment is there, and is good for ten years, and renewable after that. Way too much time has probably passed to vacate it on the grounds of improper service. You can see what you can do as far as negotiating a settlement, and perhaps an attorney can help you with that. You could bankrupt it but that might nit be so hit if you're in the midst of buying a house
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/11/2011
    Edward Papa, Esq.
    Edward Papa, Esq. | Edward Papa
    There are lots of instances of "sewer service" by creditor attorneys. You can file an order to show cause and have the judgment vacated. You just found out about it and they obviously did not serve you because you were not at that address. Should be piece of cake to get vacated. It will be faster, cost less and be better for your creditworthiness than paying it or going bankrupt. Most courts have the information on how to vacate the judgment yourself but it wouldn't hurt to have an attorney help you
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 8/11/2011
    Eric J. Benzer, Attorney at Law
    Eric J. Benzer, Attorney at Law | Eric Benzer
    Yes
    Answer Applies to: Maryland
    Replied: 8/11/2011
    Judith A. Runyon, Esq. Attorney at Law
    Judith A. Runyon, Esq. Attorney at Law | Judith A. Runyon
    Bankruptcy will not help you. Talk to a civil law attorney.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/11/2011
    Colorado Legal Solutions
    Colorado Legal Solutions | Stephen Harkess
    You may be able to get the judgment vacated, but it won't happen on its own. You will need to get a copy of the return of service and file a motion with the court. If the statute of limitations has run, then overturning the judgment will end collection activities. If it hasn't, then overturning the judment will simply require the creditor to have you properly served to pursue the debt. You can discharge the debt by filing for bankruptcy protection if you wish. Alternatively, you can work out an arrangement to pay the debt to improve your credit report.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 8/11/2011
    Law Office of Maureen O' Malley
    Law Office of Maureen O' Malley | Maureen O'Malley
    If it's large enough, see a lawyer and file bankruptcy. Or see a lawyer anyway to learn if process was valid. All else being equal you could pay the judgment, but it's probably high now.
    Answer Applies to: Virginia
    Replied: 8/11/2011
    Law Office of J. Scott Logan, LLC
    Law Office of J. Scott Logan, LLC | John Scott Logan
    A judgment is generally valid for 12 years. They can put a lien on your house when you buy and garnish your wages and/or lien accounts.
    Answer Applies to: Maine
    Replied: 8/11/2011
    Carballo Law Offices
    Carballo Law Offices | Tony E. Carballo
    Probably too late to set it aside (any very expensive to even try) and even if you do set it aside you will still have to pay the debt if you really owe it. Bankruptcy is an option (particularly if you owe other things that can be discharged in bankruptcy) and another option is to pay the judgment, either a sump sum settlement if you have the money and can get a good deal or work out a payment plan. Talk to a bankruptcy attorney first to find out if that is an option in your case since it depends on your total income, debts and property.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/11/2011
    Ursula G. Barrios Law
    Ursula G. Barrios Law | Guillermo Machado
    You can file BK and wipe it clean.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/11/2011
    Ashman Law Office
    Ashman Law Office | Glen Edward Ashman
    If you moved and they could not find you you may have been properly served by publication at the last known address. See a lawyer to weigh your options. Do NOT talk to their lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 8/11/2011
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