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Undoing a Default Judgment

Not filing a written answer or appearance within the specified time, or by failing to attend the hearing, or by missing other deadlines may lose you the opportunity to raise your defenses. This is usually called a “default.” Try never to lose by default.

If a default has been entered against you, you may be able to still get another chance to be heard by asking the court to “set aside” the default. A default can be set aside only for specific reasons and most often only within a short time after the judgment has been entered into the court records.

To set aside the default, act immediately, presenting reasons why you did not respond to the court case, such as that you never knew about the case or that there were unavoidable circumstances that made you unable to answer within the required time. In some courts, you will also have to tell the court briefly about your defenses or counterclaims so that the court will know that you have a chance to get a different result if the default is lifted. Usually, a request to “remove,” “lift,” or “set aside” a default has to be made to the court in writing. A copy of your request should be mailed to the collector’s lawyer.

It is difficult to set aside a default. You can avoid the problem by instead responding on time to all deadlines.