A court’s decision when a creditor sues a debtor isn’t always final. Sometimes, a plaintiff may file for a relief from judgment (or simply judgment relief).
Whether this is an option in your case will depend on a range of factors. The following guide will help you better understand what judgment relief is and when you might be able to take advantage of this legal option.
What is a Judgment?
Before you learn the essentials of judgment relief, you need to understand what a judgment is in legal terms. Per the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, in the context of a lawsuit regarding an unpaid debt, the court may award a creditor a judgment against a defendant. Doing so gives the creditor permission to pursue the debt through various means if a debtor refuses to pay it back, such as garnishing a debtor’s wages.
Essentially, if someone sues you over a debt, and the court awards them a judgment, the law will require you to pay what you owe. The court might also add such additional fees as legal fees to a judgment.
A court may award a creditor a judgment if the court finds you owe what the creditor is seeking. The court may also award a judgment if you simply ignore a lawsuit or fail to reply to it before a certain deadline.
Take the matter seriously if you learn a creditor is suing you. Thoroughly read all correspondence to ensure you understand what steps you must take to guard against the court automatically awarding a judgment against you.
Filing a Motion for Relief From Judgment: What You Need to Know
Various scenarios might warrant seeking judgment relief. They include the following:
- When a judgment resulted from a mistake or a similar form of neglect
- New evidence arises that an attorney or defendant could not have reasonably obtained early enough to grant a defendant a new trial
- An opposing party has committed some form of fraud or misconduct that influenced the judgment
- A judgment is void
- A defendant has satisfied the terms of a judgment or a relevant party has discharged the judgment
Those are the most common examples. According to the Cornell Law School Legal Information institute, there may be other circumstances that justify filing a motion for relief from judgment. The best way to learn whether you have grounds to file such a motion is to review your case with an attorney with experience handling such matters.
Discharging a Debt Through Bankruptcy
Filing a motion for relief from judgment is one option to consider if you believe the judgment a court issued against you was a mistake. Additionally, if you’re unable to pay the debt, you may consider filing for bankruptcy.
Successfully filing for bankruptcy will typically result in a judgment being discharged. If necessary, you may then file for judgment relief to complete the process.
Just remember that none of this is meant to serve as official legal advice. If you have questions about whether judgment relief is an option in your case, speak with an attorney. They can help you navigate these circumstances.
Debt Legal Defense is a San Antonio firm offering judgment relief services.