Vacating a Default Judgment

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What is a Default Judgment?

When you are sued by someone, you must file an answer with the court, which includes your response to the allegations made against you.  If you fail to so do within the time period alloted, or if you fail to appear in court to answer the plaintiff's complaint, a judgment will be entered in favor of the plaintiff.  This is called a default judgment. 

What Can I Do if a Default Judgment Has Been Entered Against Me? 

In order to have the default judgment vacated, or set aside, you must file a motion to vacate the judgment with the court.  In filing your motion, you must generally cite one of the following reasons for why you failed to answer the complaint in a timely manner:

  1. mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect;
  2. new evidence has been discovered;
  3. fraud
  4. the judgment is void;
  5. judgment was satisfied or discharged;
  6. some other reason that would justify your failure to answer

The court will hold a hearing on your motion, and determine whether or not to vacate the judgment.  Though the success rate of these motions will vary quite a bit from court to court, they are fairly liberally granted.  Courts are more inclined to give each party the opportunity to argue their side of the case based on its merits, rather than allowing a judgment by default to stand.

It is important to remember that just because your motion to vacate is granted, you have not won the case.  Setting aside the default judgment simply gives you the opportunity to file your answer to the original complaint made against you by the plaintiff. 

Should I Consult An Attorney?

Any time you are being sued, you will want to have an experienced attorney defending you.  If a default judgment has been entered against you, an attorney will be able to represent you and help you prove that the judgment should be vacated or set aside. 

Consult a Lawyer - Present Your Case Now!
Last Modified: 05-28-2010 04:01 PM PDT

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