What to expect if you default after you're sued

If you're sued, you can choose to do nothing. This means that you do not file any response by the deadline. The Plaintiff then can ask the judge to decide the case without your input. This is called a default or a default judgment

Get help if you have a default but didn't want one

If you didn't get the papers that started the lawsuit (you weren't served) or you couldn't respond for a really good reason, like you were in the hospital or serving in the military, you may be able to cancel the default judgment and defend yourself.

Reasons you might choose default

There are many reasons someone might choose to not respond. For example

  • You know you owe them money and don't want to negotiate.
  • You don't have the time or resources to defend yourself in court and can't afford to hire a lawyer
  • You don't have any assets that can be taken in collections and therefore have very little to lose

What happens if you do not respond

The Plaintiff will ask for a default and a default judgment

The Plaintiff must wait at least 30 days after the Summons and Complaint were served to take any action. After this time has passed, the Plaintiff will mail you a  Request for Entry of Default (form CIV-100). These forms ask the court to enter a default judgment against you, which means the court will require you to pay what the 

What happens when you get a default judgment against you

After a default judgment, the Plaintiff will try to collect the money you owe. The Plaintiff may be able to take money from your paycheck or bank account and put a lien on your property.

If you don't have any assets to pay the debt, you can let the Plaintiff. They may give up or try to collect in the future.

If your case was a limited civil case ($35,000 or less), you can file a motion with the court to pay the judgment in installment payments at any time after judgment is entered. 

You may also attempt to negotiate payment arrangements with the plaintiff's attorney. 

Learn more about your options is what happens after a judgment.


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