If you missed the time for filing your Answer or showing up in court – even by just a few minutes, there is probably a default order or judgment against you. You will need to get that order vacated or “set aside,” the legalese for “removed.” You need the court’s initial judgment to go away, in other words, so you can start over and defend yourself from the debt collectors. You ask the court to do that by filing a Motion to Vacate. There are two parts to every motion to vacate – the part that explains and seeks to excuse your failure to answer, and the part that shows the court that you have some sort of defense to the suit.
There are two conflicting policies behind vacating default judgments: the policy in favor of hearing every case “on the merits” (rather than letting the case be decided by a “technicality”) and the policy in favor of “finality,” which is just a way of saying that when a court has decided something it likes for things to end. When you’re a “little guy,” the courts are more interested in finality than they are for bigger economic players.
At the same time, the debt collector will fight hard to keep its default judgment – that gives it a chance to raid your bank accounts or wages at practically zero cost rather than allowing you to defend. Thus while you have a very good chance to get the default judgment removed, the motion is a little tricky, and time is of the essence, meaning that any delay in filing the motion could cause you to lose it.
The Motion to Vacate or Set Aside Default Judgment Packet consists of 9 Documents:
Two Sample Motions
An “annotated” Motion – to be used as a model for cutting and pasting
A Sample Affidavit
Sample Memorandum in Support
- Sample Proposed Answer and Counterclaim
- Case law notes
- Report on Default Judgments and Motions to Vacate.
Although this is not “cut and paste” you will find this document, along with the directions, just what you need to file your Motion to Vacate and to get started defending yourself so you can keep the debt collectors from garnishing your wages or raiding your bank account.