i have been served with papers stating I have a court date this month against an attorney who took over an unsecured credit card debt I owe. I don't have a job, car, own a home and had to drop out of school when I lost my job. I don't have anything for them to collect. If I don't show up, will I be arrested or in trouble? Would they try and come after any personal belongings I owned? Would I be "judgement proof" at the present time?
Elder Law Attorney
I think you owe it to yourself to at least consult with one of the attorneys on this board who practices in the area of consumer protection and debt collection law. Many times, the credit card companies' and collection agencies' efforts to collect the debts cross the legal line into violations of state and federal law. If this occurs, an experienced consumer-side attorney can take steps necessary to get the case dismissed and even get you a settlement. Many of these attorneys will provide you with a consultation at no charge.
E. Alexandra "Sasha" Golden is a Massachusetts lawyer. All answers are based on Massachusetts law. All answers are for educational purposes and no attorney-client relationship is formed by providing an answer to a question.
Did you file an Answer to the Complaint? What type of hearing is scheduled?
If you do not show up, or file any type of Answer, the Court will probably just enter a Judgment in favor of the creditor (the same result is likely even if you do show up for the hearing).
After the creditor gets the Judgment against you, it will try to collect the money from you. However, as you said, it does not appear that there is anything the creditor can take. It is VERY unlikely that would try to take your personal belongings (unless you have extremely valuable jewelry or art).
I would suggest consulting with an attorney regarding your situation. If you are able to borrow money from a family member, you might have a good chance of negotiating the debt and coming to a settlement. You might even have defenses against the action or claims against the creditor.
If you have several debts, bankruptcy might be an option for you.
It would be best to try to resolve the debt/Judgment before you get another job, so that you do not have to worry about wage garnishment issues.
Please note that the information provided here is for general informational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal advice as to specific facts or circumstances. You should consult an attorney concerning your particular factual situation and regarding any specific legal questions you may have. No attorney-client relationship is created merely through the exchange of information via this web site. If you would like a legal consultation, feel free to contact me.
Anytime there is a hearing, you should show up, or at least consult with a Massachusetts consumer debt attorney. Our firm answers these types of questions each week. It really depends on what the hearing is for.
The Creditor may have filed for a default judgment and obtained an order. If this is the case, there is a good chance this is a supplemental proceeding, where the Creditor is entitled to ask you questions relative to your assets and determine what if anything the Creditor can ask the court to attach or garnish. Even though you may be judgment proof, if you fail to show up for this type of hearing, the Judge may issue a bench warrant for your arrest, where you can be held in custody until the next time the court holds this type of motion session. This type of arrest warrant is not due to not paying your creditor, but rather for contempt of court for not showing up. In any case, you should contact a consumer debt attorney and at least discuss the reason behind the hearing to get advice on how to proceed.
I hope this helps,
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