consent judgment

by Ann
(Saint Clair Shores, Mi)

Recently I was served with a summons to appear in court and that I had 21 days to file my answer to the court and to the attorney suing me for a credit card debt. Yesterday I received a letter from the attorney that he would have me sign a consent judgement to settle this. I stated in my letter that my only income was ssi.

I am now scared to death and don't know what to do. I have no home, live my inlaws and my only asset is a vehicle.

Should I sign this or does this attorney have the right force me to pay with my ssi?

Comments for consent judgment

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Jun 22, 2011
Consent Judgment

Ann, hopefully the information and advice I share here will make you less frightened. First, a consent judgment results when the parties to a lawsuit agree on how to resolve their dispute. When they do, they eliminate the need for a trial, although the agreement must be approved by a judge and formalized. The terms of a consent judgment are legally binding on all parties.

You are under NO obligation to sign the consent judgment proposed by the attorney and although I am not a lawyer and so I cannot give you legal advice, from what you tell me, you should not sign the agreement because based on your information, it sounds like you are judgment-proof. In other words, you have nothing that the attorney could take from you to enforce the terms of any agreement the two of you might reach or to enforce the terms of a court's judgment should you go to trial. This is because your SSI payments are exempt from collection -- those funds cannot be taken by a creditor, debt collector or attorney to satisfy the debt you owe - and your only other asset is your car, which I expect is also exempt.

In addition to sending the attorney a letter as you did stating that SSI is your only source of income, respond to the court summons by the deadline and provide that same information in your answer. Also, indicate in your answer that you have no assets other than a car.

If the attorney does not drop the lawsuit after reading your letter and or your answer, be sure to show up in court on the day of the hearing to state your case.

You may also want to schedule an appointment with a consumer law attorney in your area who helps people resolve their debt collection problems. Your initial appointment should be free and you are under no obligation to schedule another appointment with the attorney. At your free appointment, explain your situation and share the letter you received as well as the summons with the attorney. The attorney should be able to give you advice about what to do or not do. I think that having this meeting will help alleviate your concerns, so I recommend that you schedule it.

Good luck.

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