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 » If a Debtor Has a Default Judgment Against Them, It May Affect the Bankruptcy Process

If a Debtor Has a Default Judgment Against Them, It May Affect the Bankruptcy Process

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Default judgments typically mean a debtor is quite advanced in the collections process. Creditors do not like having to involve the court and having to file for default judgment, but they will do so if a debtor demonstrates they are ultimately unwilling or unable to pay.  A default judgment is a court order demanding that the debtor surrender money or property to the creditor. If you have such a judgment against you, it means the court has ruled against you for not appearing in court and for failing to pay off a type of loan or a credit card.

One of the ways to stop a default judgment is to file bankruptcy. Filing bankruptcy effectively stops any and almost all legal action, thanks to the “automatic stay.” Even if a creditor has started to enforce their judgment against you via garnishment or bank levy, once you file bankruptcy the “automatic stay” goes into effect and the creditor is legally required to “stay” (cease and desist) all collection efforts against you.  This automatic stay also means that your creditors are not allowed to contact you in any way about your outstanding debt and/or judgment.

The automatic stay remains in effect the entire four to five months that your bankruptcy case is pending, unless a secured creditor (mortgage or car loan) files a motion to have the stay lifted, in which case the court may or may not allow the creditor to resume pursuit of collection in order to protect or repossess the security (house or car) for which payments are delinquent.  When your bankruptcy case is done, you will receive a formal debt discharge decree from the bankruptcy court and the court will close your case.  The discharge decree makes the automatic stay permanent, and there forward your creditors are prohibited from taking action against you personally to collect the debt that you previously owed. In most jurisdictions, the debtor or his/her attorney must also file paperwork in the district court case in order to vacate the default judgment, even if the bankruptcy discharge acts as protection from its enforcement.

Another thing you should understand is that the protection you receive from the automatic stay only remains in place as long as your bankruptcy case is progressing successfully toward discharge. If your bankruptcy case ends up being dismissed, you will lose any protection you had, and thus, the creditors will start the collections process once again. This is something that you need to discuss with a skilled an Iowa bankruptcy lawyer, as it is far too complex a process to attempt on your own.

If you are declaring bankruptcy, it only makes sense to do it according to all the rules and regulations. Failing to do so could leave you back at square one, struggling to get out from under your bills and various judgments. Bankruptcy is not an easy process, but if it is done with the help of an experienced Iowa bankruptcy lawyer, the process can go relatively smoothly.

Kevin Ahrenholz is an Iowa bankruptcy lawyer and Iowa bankruptcy attorney. To contact him, visit http://www.iowachapter7.com or call 1.877.888.1766.

Posted on Thursday, January 24th, 2013 and filed under Bankruptcy.
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