Losing a civil court case will almost certainly result in a financial judgment being entered against you. Furthermore, you are likely to be subject to a default judgment if you fail to appear in court. In either case, ignoring a judgment is not a wise idea. Your best course of action is to work things out with the other party in a way that satisfies both your needs.
For the record, a judgment is a court order entered as the result of civil litigation. You might be sued by a creditor for a failure to pay your bills. If the court rules in the creditor’s favor, the result will be a judgment covering the amount you owe plus the creditor’s court and recovery costs.
Understand that a judgment gives creditors access to more tools for extracting payment. Once a creditor has a judgment on its side, it can also bring attorneys and judgment collection agencies into play. It all adds up to a bad scenario for you.
If you are still not convinced, here are four reasons you should never ignore a judgment:
1. Your Wages Could Be Garnished
Although not all states allow wage garnishment, most do. That means your employer could be legally forced to withhold some of your pay with every paycheck you earn. What is withheld goes to pay your debt. Is that really something you can afford?
Most states limit the amount that can be garnished. Said amount is generally based on the amount of disposable income you have. Simply put, a creditor cannot put you in the poor house by taking every penny you earn. Still, a certain percentage of your disposable income could be taken.
2. Your Bank Account Could Be Garnished
There are states that allow bank account garnishment in addition to wage garnishment. Bank account garnishment works on the same principle. The creditor serves your bank with a notice of garnishment, which is a legal requirement that the bank seize a certain portion of your financial assets and turn them over to the creditor.
3. Other Assets Could Be Seized
Wage and bank garnishment are often not enough to satisfy larger judgments in a timely manner. In such cases, asset seizure is a possibility. Judgment Collectors, a Salt Lake City, UT judgment collection agency, says that certain high-value assets are incredibly attractive to creditors. Real estate is a good example.
A creditor could place a lien on a piece of property you own. You would not be able to sell that property or take out a line of credit against it without first paying your debt. If a lien is not enough, some states allow creditors to actually seize the property and sell it.
4. You May Have a Case to Vacate
The first three reasons for not ignoring a judgment relate to the unpleasant consequences of doing so. This fourth and final reason – the possibility of vacating the judgment – is more about settling things in your favor. It all boils down to the fact that there are a limited number of scenarios in which a default judgment can be contested. Successfully doing so would result in the judgment being vacated.
If you have a solid case to vacate, why ignore the judgment? Contest it and see what the court will do. You still might lose, but you certainly won’t win if you don’t try.
Judgments are nothing to be messed with. If you ever have a judgment entered against you, do not ignore it. Either pay what you owe or look to have it vacated.