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How to File a Motion to Vacate Judgment
If you discover a judgment hanging around on your credit report and damaging your score, it is in your best interests to file a Motion to Vacate Judgment in order to have the derogatory notation removed from your credit record.
Appeal to the Court to Vacate a Judgment
Your first task should be to find out which court originally awarded the judgment, if you don’t already know. This fact should be included on your credit report. Locate the website of the court and check to see if the Motion to Vacate Judgment form is located on the court’s website. Although some courts do not provide downloadable forms for consumers, many do.
Each court districts rules and regulations regarding vacating judgments may vary. In most cases, however, you can fill out your Motion to Vacate Judgment and send it in the court via mail. If the court is near you, you may file the motion in person. As long as you have not moved in the time since the judgment was awarded, it should have been filed at your county courthouse.
State Your Case At the Hearing
Make sure that you arrive at the hearing on time and with documentation in hand that supports your reason for requesting that the judgment be vacated. In some cases, such as if you were not properly served, there will be no documentation. If, however, the statute of limitations had expired on the original debt or you do not owe the debt, you’d best have some supporting evidence to back you up.
The best case scenario is that the judgment creditor never responds to your notification that you have filed a Motion to Vacate Judgment. If the judgment creditor neither responds nor shows up in court, you will win the case by default and the judgment will be removed from the public record and from your credit report.
Notify the Judgment Creditor
As much as you would prefer that your court hearing be only between you and a judge, it is your legal responsibility to make sure that the judgment creditor is properly notified of your desire to vacate the judgment. This gives the judgment creditor the opportunity to send representation to the hearing to ensure that the judgment is not set aside.
Some courts will automatically notify a judgment creditor whenever a consumer files a request to set aside a judgment order. If your court does not do this, you may send a notice to the judgment creditor via certified mail informing it of the new hearing. In some cases, you may also opt to hire a third party to serve the judgment creditor in your stead.
Have a Good Reason Before You Appeal a Judgment
Unfortunately, the fact that you forgot to pay a debt isn’t a good enough reason to appeal a judgment. You must have legal grounds for filing your motion to set aside a judgment with the court. Some valid legal reasons to vacate a judgment include:
- You were not properly notified of the original lawsuit against you. As in, you never received a summons.
- The judgment was awarded for a debt that was beyond your state’s statute of limitations
- The original lawsuit was filed in any court other than your county court. In this case, you may file a Motion to Vacate Judgment based on improper or wrongful venue.
- You don’t owe the debt the judgment creditor sued for.
Disclaimer: I am not an attorney and this is not to be taken as legal advice. See a licensed attorney in your state for guidance specific to your situation.