What happens when you appear in court regarding a credit card debt?

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What happens when you appear in court regarding a credit card debt?

My husband and I are being sued by a credit card company for nonpayment. We recieved the court order and responded asking them to reduce or forgive the debt. Now we have received a court date. What happens if we do not appear? Are we in contempt of court at that point? What can we expect if we do appear? Will be expected to the amount due that day? We can not do that. My husband has been without work for right at a year and I just found out that my job is ending at the end of this month.

Asked on May 13, 2011 under Bankruptcy Law, Oklahoma

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

1) If you don't appear, you lose by default--it's like forfeiting a ball game.

2) If you do appear, you can defend the case by presenting evidence that the amount of the debt is wrong, that you've paid it off, etc. While the credit card company needs to prove their case--they are suing you--you'll need evidence of your own to present a credible defense. You may also defend on other grounds, such as fraud was involved in getting you to sign up; and you may even present any counterclaims of your own (e.g. for damages for fraud). But what you can't do is present inability to pay as a defense, so if the debt is completely valid and the problem is you don't have money, you'll lose.

3) You'll be expecte to pay, if you lose, within a reasonable and court determined time (e.g. 30 days). If you don't, the credit card company can pursue various remedies, such as trying to garnish wages or  bank account, or putting a lien on property.


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