There are many myths and stories out there, most of them perpetuated by debt collectors, about what can happen to you when a creditor brings suit here in New Jersey. However, understanding the process leads to your understanding your rights and knowing what has to be done to protect your interests.
What Happens When Time Runs Out to Answer
After a creditor files suit and has you served with it, it has to wait 35 days for you to file an answer contesting the debt or raising some other defense. If no answer is filed within the time allowed, then the creditor has a Default entered, which will prevent you from filing an Answer, and submits paperwork to have a judgment entered against you.
This judgment can include some simple interest, the filing fees to bring the suit, and sometimes attorney's fees. Once the judgment is entered, you owe the money, whether you may have had grounds to dispute it or not.
At this point, if you want to fight the debt, you would have to bring a motion in court to vacate (remove) the judgment and allow you to file an answer out of time. This is best done within one year of the entry of the judgment. You would, however, have to have some grounds to dispute the debt other than not being able to pay it.
So What Do I Do?
If you live in southern New Jersey and want a lawyer to represent you against your creditors, call my office at 856-432-4113 or contact me through this site to schedule an appointment to come in. I have represented creditors for many years and am familiar with the collection industry and how it ticks. Put my experience to work for you!
If your debt situation goes beyond one or two creditors, however, and you are wondering whether you need a solution to a bigger problem, then download my free book, Am I In Too Deep? A Guide to Knowing When You Need to File Bankruptcy in New Jersey to find out if bankruptcy might be the solution.