Not Showing Up To A Civil Suit Court Appearance

QUESTION: What would happen if I do not show up to a hearing concerning credit card breach of contract?

I am a house wife who made regular payments until my husband stopped giving me any money to pay on credit card and anything else at all . I have no income at all to work with and had to move out of our house and in with family just to stay alive due to him canceling my medical insurance and not buying food for the house now I am being sued.

ANSWER: The collection industry can be ruthless. They don’t care what your circumstances: if they can legally collect against you, they will.

Depending on all of the circumstances surrounding your finances, you may want to consider bankruptcy. Bankruptcy will stop the lawsuit against you dead in its tracks.

Otherwise, I suggest you do everything possible to defend yourself. If you/family can afford to hire a consumer rights attorney, that’s your best bet. The creditor/plaintiff is likely to get a judgment against you by default. Even if you cannot afford to pay for the judgment now, the judgment-creditors are patient: they will wait until you find employment, re-marry, gain an inheritance, or win the lottery. Meanwhile, a judgment on your credit reports can be devastating. You should do everything you can to avoid having a judgment entered against you.

This information is provided for educational purposes only. There is no attorney-client relationship with Karni Law Firm until a contract is signed by the attorney and the client.

 

Sued By A Junk Debt Collector

QUESTION: Sued by a junk debt collector for $1500 on unsecured CC debt from 2011.  This clearly seems to be an attempt to get a default judgment by an attorney who expects that I will not answer. I’ll pay $250 to any licensed TX attorney who will answer on my behalf in the expectation that the junk debt collector will abandon hope due to the presence of an attorney and the weak claim. I seem to be one of many thousands of people who received court docs today judging by the quality of the summons. I’ve been doing research and this seems very easy to defeat. I’m wondering whether or not I should even bother to research how to defeat this when there might be an attorney willing to accept $250 to do it for me.

Last payment on the card was March 19th, 2011. I was served by someone in a $200 car on March 26th, 2015. The lawyer lives 300 miles away. The summons is very sketchy looking.

ANSWER: I don’t know who sued you and who their lawyers are. The debt buyer industry has been empowered over the last 2-3 years for a whole host of reasons. Yes, they may simply be interested in obtaining a default judgment. On the other hand, I have had many debt buyers – the likes of Midland Funding, Portfolio Recovery Associates, and many others up put a fight, even for very low balances. Their attorneys are in court with huge dockets all set for the same day: it is unlikely they would be coming to court for your case only. Plus, if this is a lawsuit in the Justice of the Peace court system, then the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure are severely relaxed, making it much easier to obtain a judgment.

You seem to be a terrific negotiator, considering your online bidding efforts here. Any lawyer that makes an appearance for you in an answer is on the hook for the entire case, not just the answer. An attorney who values their law license and their reputation will not get hired for the limited purpose of filing an answer and then asking the court to withdraw from your case. (I may be wrong, of course.)

If you fail to answer the lawsuit, or if you appear – pro se or through an attorney – and lose the case, the judgment will likely be significantly higher than $1,500.00, including interest, fees, court costs and attorney fees. The damage to your credit report, as well as the risk of post-judgment collection would be reasons for you to hire an experienced attorney.

 

Actions That Can Be Taken After A Default Judgment

QUESTION: I have a default judgment, accounts frozen, money taken. There’s a balance, what actions can be taken?

The default judgment was $5,947 plus 5% annum over 2yrs court cost and receiver attorney fees 25% added to total up @ $10,284.. $6,411 was taken from frozen accounts leaving a balance of $3,878 on judgment. Can this be negotiated or settled for less…need legal direction…..

ANSWER: While you can certainly work with the judgment creditor to settle the judgment yourself, I would encourage you to consult with a consumer rights attorney before you proceed alone. Your rights may have been violated in the way that the judgment was taken, the way that the judgment is now being collected, and with respect to your credit reports. I would especially encourage you to talk to a lawyer if the judgment was taken by a Third-Party Debt Buyer (not the original creditor). 

Finally, you should not agree to anything negotiated with the judgment creditor unless it is in writing. 

I have an important follow up question for you: were you served with papers when the lawsuit was originally filed? If not, you should consult with an attorney to have the judgment completely unwound.

This information is provided for educational purposes only. There is no attorney-client relationship with Karni Law Firm until a contract is signed by the attorney and the client.

Ex-Spouse Defaulted On Car Payment: What To Do?

QUESTION: My ex husband had defaulted on his court ordered mediated agreement of my car payment for two months. What should I do?

Our divorce was finalized in Austin, Texas on January 11, 2013, but we both live in different areas of Harris County.  He has been late off and on since our divorce.  I also struggle getting my spousal support.

ANSWER: I will answer this question from a consumer debt/credit perspective. If you want to keep the vehicle and you are trying to maintain good credit, your fastest and most secure way to do that is to make up the missed payments yourself. It will probably be cheaper for you to pay your way through the vehicle then to deal with the repossession costs. Unless your finance company is especially nice (which most are not) they are probably already entitled to repossess the vehicle. Getting it back may mean that you will have to pay the full amount of the vehicle (it’s called accelerating the payments.) In other words, the finance company is not obligated to allow you to simply come current.

I realize that if you start making monthly car note payments yourself, your ex-husband may try to assume that you are taking over that responsibility. I would suggest you carefully document every communication with the finance company- 1) asking how many payments are behind; and 2) finding out if payments have been made each and every month. Ultimately, you will want to be able to show the family court that you would not have made the payments, except that you were at risk of losing the vehicle. If the vehicle is ever repossessed, make sure the finance company has your correct address. They are obligated under Texas Law to send you 2 notices if they sell the vehicle to another person. You are welcome to send any correspondence from the lender to my office for us to review, whether it is pre- or post- repo.

You should consult with a consumer rights attorney regarding all issues on financing, repossession, and your credit score. You should consult with a family lawyer regarding a motion to enforce; you will want to get a judgment against your ex-husband for payback of the monthly note payments and other obligations he is avoiding.

This information is provided for educational purposes only. There is no attorney-client relationship with Karni Law Firm until a contract is signed by the attorney and the client.

There was a judgment taken against me, what happens next?

If there was a judgment issued against you and you do not have the time or resources to try and have it overturned, here are some important things to know about what happens next:
 
First of all, it will go on your credit report.  The trade line for the judgment creditor will most likely be listed as one of your bad debts.  In addition to that, the judgment itself will also be listed by the clerk of court in the Judgments/Liens/Foreclosures or Public Records section of your credit report.  The trade line under bad debts can only be listed for 7 years like any other debt, however, the judgment can be listed for 10 years. 
 
Secondly, you may receive what is called “post-judgment discovery requests.”  In these requests, the attorney representing the judgment creditor can ask you about your assets, income and other financial information.  What is scary about this is that if you do not answer these requests the judge may hold you in contempt of the court.  This is the ONLY time that failure to pay a debt will result in jail time.
 
Lastly, with a judgment issued against you, there is a chance that the judgment creditor will attempt to freeze your bank accounts until the judgment is paid off.
 
If you have had a judgment issued against you or you just have questions about being sued or credit card debt in general, contact a consumer attorney in your area.  You may find a local consumer attorney by visiting www.naca.net.
 
This blog covers consumer rights as they relate to Texas State law.  If you reside outside of the State of Texas, please contact a local attorney.