You have some options, including:
- Settling on the amount owed behind the judgments (necessitating a lump sum),
- Setting up a payment plan directly with the law firms (called a stipulated judgment), or
- Letting the creditors apply the judgments with a lien, levy or garnishment, or
- Filing bankruptcy.
Find an attorney to represent you in this matter. If you do not already have a regular attorney, contact your state or country Bar Association's attorney referral service to help you find an attorney in your area who should be able to assist you. I cannot say specifically what action you should take in regard to the judgment entered against you, as I do not know all of the details of the case. Generally speaking, when a party to a lawsuit fails to appear at a hearing, the court will enter a default judgment against the party which failed to appear.
When entering a default judgment, the court generally does not consider the facts of the case; rather, it simply assumes that you owe what is demanded in the complaint based on the fact that you did not appear to defend yourself. Thankfully, courts will sometimes set aside default judgments if a defendant can show that he or she had a good reason for not appearing at the previous court hearing. In addition, if you can show that you have a strong defense to the original claim, the likelihood of having the judgment set aside should increase. The only way to determine your chances of prevailing in this case is to consult with an attorney to discuss the details of your case. I suspect that your attorney will file a motion to set aside the default judgment entered against you; however, your attorney may find another strategy better suited to the specifics of your case, so it is imperative that you consult with an attorney as soon as possible to discuss ways to resolve this judgment.
If after consulting with an attorney, you find that you cannot resolve this debt through the courts, you may want to consider alternatives to resolving the judgment, such as negotiating a lump-sum settlement or a repayment plan with the creditor. You or your attorney will need to contact the creditor, or the creditor's attorney, to discuss repayment options available to you. You should also discuss your state's exemption laws regarding the enforcement of judgments. Depending on your state, the source of your funds, and several other factors, your bank account, wages, or other property may be exempt from creditor execution. Your attorney may need to file requests for exemption with the court, so make sure that you consult with your attorney as soon as possible to help you resolve this situation.
You can also speak with a qualified bankruptcy attorney to discuss the relief available to you in bankruptcy. You can search for a American Bankruptcy Institute certified attorney in your area by visiting the ABC World Web site.
Consulting with an attorney does not mean you are going to file bankruptcy, but it will help you better understand the options available to you in case other solutions I mentioned above do not work out. For more information about bankruptcy, I invite you to visit the Bills.com Bankruptcy Information page.
An qualified bankruptcy attorney should also be able to carefully analyze each aspect of your financial situation to advise what non-bankruptcy solutions may help you.
Depending on your income and amount of debt, one of the several options I have described above may be able to help you. I encourage you to explore the Bills.com Debt Help page to read more about these and other options available to you.
Watch some Bills.com online videos about consumer finance topics.
I hope this information helps you Find. Learn. Save.