These papers are usually called a Summons and Complaint. You need to be served with a copy with court papers. Do the court papers need to be served by the Sheriff? The court papers do not have to be served by a Sheriff. There are a few different ways you could be served. The most common way to be served is in person.
This means that someone, other than the person suing you, hands you the court papers at your home or place of business. For this type of service, you also have to be mailed a copy of the court papers. Finally, if the person serving you has not been able to serve you in person or through substituted service after a few attempts, the person can serve you by taping or nailing a copy of the court papers to your door and sending a copy to you in the mail. What do I do if I am served with court papers?
There are very short deadlines to respond to court papers. Usually the deadline to respond is only 20 days from the date you are served.
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For debt collection cases, you are not usually given a court date to appear. In order to respond to the court papers, you have to file an answer with the court. In an answer, you list any defenses you may have to the court case. After you file an answer, a hearing may be scheduled. In court, you will have a chance to prove that you do not owe the money, that you already paid it, or any other defenses that you put in your answer.
If you do not file an answer before the deadline, the judge will sign a default judgment saying that you owe the money.
If you file an answer and ultimately lose in court, the judge will sign a judgment saying that you owe the money. Once your creditor has a judgment against you, they can take other action to try and get the money from you. Do not ignore any court papers. Contact an attorney for help responding to court papers.
Should I bother responding to court papers if I owe the money?
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Even if you think you owe the debt, you should talk to a lawyer. There are a lot of defenses that you may have to prevent a judgment from being entered against you, even if you agree you owe some of the money.
For example, the debt could be beyond the statute of limitations, meaning the debt is so old that the debt collector cannot get a judgment against you. A judgment is a legal document that says that one person owes another person money.
Your creditor must sue you to get a judgment. This means you will owe more money if you wait to pay. Judgments in New York are valid for twenty years. This means a judgment can be collected for twenty years or until you pay it off. If you make payments on the judgment, be sure to save your receipts. After you have made your last payment, be sure to check with the court that the satisfaction of judgment has been filed. I just learned a default judgment was entered against me, can I challenge it? Yes, though it can be difficult to overturn a default judgment.
If you were served and failed to respond, you have to show the court that you had a good reason for not responding and that you have a defense to the debt. There may be time deadlines for vacating default judgments. Contact our office or your local legal services agency for more assistance with this. What can a creditor do with a judgment? Once a creditor or debt collector has a judgment against you, they can use that judgment to garnish your wages and seize your assets.
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Certain types of income and assets are protected by the law and cannot be seized to pay back most kinds of debt. I received an information subpoena. What is that? An information subpoena is a document which asks for information about your income and assets. An information subpoena is usually several pages long and asks you several questions about you make and what you own. If you receive an information subpoena, a judgment has likely been entered against you.
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Once a judgment has been entered, a creditor or debt collector can from time to time serve you with an information subpoena to get information about your income and assets. You must fill out the information subpoena to the best of your ability and send it back to the creditor, even if you have nothing the creditor can take. If you refuse to complete the information subpoena, you may be held in contempt of court. Protected income and property. In most cases, protected income and property cannot be taken from you by a creditor to pay a debt.
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Some kinds of income protected from garnishment are:. Most welfare benefits public assistance, TANF, food stamps, etc. Rental or Utility Security Deposits. Creditors cannot seize items such as clothing, furniture and appliances, wedding rings, burial plots, or school books unless they were used as collateral to get a loan. What does it mean to be judgment proof? If you are judgment proof, this means that even if a debt collector sues you and gets a judgment against you, you have nothing that the debt collector could take to satisfy the judgment.
Usually this means that your income and assets are exempt from collection. The debt collector can still sue you and get a judgment against you, but they would not be able to take anything from you.
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Many creditors and debt collectors will insist on getting a judgment against you even if you are judgment proof. They do this in case your income situation changes because you go back to work, win the lottery, or inherit money. If a judgment is entered against you and you are served with an information subpoena, you still have to respond to it even if you have nothing the debt collector can take.
If you are judgment proof, you may be able to negotiate a lower settlement with the debt collectors or see if they will forgive the debt. There may be tax implications for any debts that are forgiven. Can a creditor or debt collector take the money in my bank account? If a judgment was entered against you, a debt collector might be able to freeze and take money from your bank. If you only have exempt income in your bank account such as Social Security, SSI, child support, public assistance, etc.
If you have both exempt and non-exempt income in your account such as money from your work and Social Security income , the lower limit applies. Remember, a creditor or debt collector cannot freeze your bank account unless they get a judgments against you. Wage garnishment. Your wages can only be garnished if the debt collector wins the lawsuit and gets a judgment against you. There are limitations on what a debt collector can take from you. If the debt collector gets a judgment against you and attempts to garnish your wages, you will be served with a paper called a Notice of Income Execution.
This notice will give you the chance to set up payments before the garnishment takes place. Only one creditor can garnish your wages at a time. If you owe money for back child support or a government debt, more money can be taken from your paycheck see below. Child support is different.
The rules are different for child support or spousal maintenance. You can even end up in jail, if you had the ability to pay and deliberately refused or neglected to pay your support.
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What about debts I owe to the government? If you owe a debt to the government, such as a tax bill, student loan, or overpayment of government benefits, the rules are also different. The government may be able to seize your tax refund or take from your government benefits such as your Social Security check to pay back your debt without suing you.