What to do if a judgement was rendered against me but I was never informedof the court proceedings?

I recently inquired about my transcripts from my college and was informed there was a past due loan amount and I needed to contact a law firm handling the issue. Upon speaking with them I was informed there was a judgement entered against me in court however I was never informed about the court date and therefore never was present for the judgement. Is there any requirement of notice regarding this issue? The original loan amount that was unpaid was approximately $1600. The judgement was entered 7 years ago; the total now due is over $2800. What options do I have in this matter?

Asked on November 7, 2011 under Bankruptcy Law, Virginia


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

When someone is sued, they must receive proper notice of the suit and of all court dates--without notice, the lawsuit cannot go ahead. If  this had come up shortly after the judgment was entered against you, you would have an excellent chance of having the judgment set aside--though if you truly owed the money, that would probably not help you much, since the creditor could file a new suit and/or get a new court date and proceed on that basis.

After a passage of so many years, courts are reluctant to set aside judgments; they will typically only do so on a showing of "exceptional circumstances" and that you were prejudiced in some way by not receiving notice. Again, if you would truly owe the money, it is not likely that, after 7 years, the court court would set aside the judgment--you have not been prejudiced unless you had some valid defense that you could have asserted at the time.

If you feel you may have had a defense that you could have raised, had you notice, speak with an attorney about seeing whether you can set aside the judgment.

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