Judgement Explained

What Is a Judgment?

A judgment refers to a decision by a court that has entered into the public record.  Before a judgment can be issued, a civil lawsuit must be filed against you.  If you do not file an answer to the lawsuit within the time period required by law (20-30 days usually) the plaintiff can ask the judge to issue a “default judgment”.

Consent Judgment vs. Default Judgment

Consent Judgment: A judge issues a Consent Judgment when both parties in a lawsuit agree to settle the matter and end litigation.

In debt collection cases, a consent judgment between a debtor and creditor can result in both parties agreeing to a settlement less than what is originally owed, and usually accompanied by a payment plan. 

Default Judgment: When a defendant fails to respond to a lawsuit, such as failing to show up to court or respond to a complaint, the judge can issue a Default Judgment. 

Consent and default judgments are similar, and the only difference is in a consent judgment both parties agree, while in a default judgment the judge orders you to pay after failing to respond.

What Should I Do If I Have a Judgment Against Me?

You can negotiate a “consent judgment” with the plaintiff in a collection case. This means you will make payment terms with the person who is suing you. 

If a judgment has been issued against you in a collection case your creditor becomes a secured creditor instead of an unsecured creditor.  Secured creditors have more rights than unsecured creditors.  In most States, a judgment creditor can satisfy its judgment by garnishing against your bank account or wages. 

In Tennessee, the judgment creditor must take additional steps to have the right to take your property away from you.  A judgment creditor can place a lien against any real estate that you own in the public record.  This lien will stop you from selling it until the debt is paid.

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