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What happens if you don't show up for court summons on debt collection?

Shelby Township, MI |

i have a summons for credit card debt and student loan debt, can't afford a lawyer, don't wanna be a fool and represent myself... i owe the money but have nothing, no job, no bank account, not on any mortgages, no car loans... the courts will rule in their favor anyway, what if i don't show up? is that a bench warrent or just grounds for them to access my wages/bank account, neither of which i have....

Attorney Answers 4


  1. When a defendant does not effectively contest the plaintiff's complaint, judgment is entered as requested in the complaint. The plaintiff then obtains a writ of execution (which may go by a different name) which is forwarded to the sheriff to pursue attachment of property or garnishment of wages or bank account. Although you may be "collection-proof" at this time, the judgment survives for years and may easily disrupt your life later. A consultation with an bankruptcy attorney now may help formulate your plan for dealing with the judgment at a later date when you have a paycheck or valuable property to protect.

    Best wishes for an outcome you can accept, and please remember to designate a best answer.

    This answer is offered as a public service for general information only and may not be relied upon as legal advice.


  2. A summons is not a subpoena, and therefore if you ignore the due date for an answer will be defaulted and a judgment will be entered against you. If the judgment creditor then notices and subpoenas you for a creditor's examination you will have to appear of risk being found in contempt of court (and a bench warrant issued for your arrest).
    I would most strongly suggest that you INVEST in the counsel of a bankruptcy attorney as it may be possible for you to qualify for a hardship exception to the normal non-dischargeability of your student loans under the circumstances you describe.
    Good luck!

    To the PROSPECTIVE client, please call myself or another attorney for your choice with more detaiils and an appointment. My PRELIMINARY answer to your question(s) is for general purposes and based upon what little information you have conveyed. It is based on such limited information that the general answer should never be relied as a reason for your action or inaction. My response does NOT establish an attorney-client relationship and such may only be established by mutual agreement, and the signing of a written retainer agreement, which will generally require payment for our services, as this is what we do for a living and, just like you, we must get paid for our work.. .


  3. When you don't oppose a court action to collect money, the court will usually allow the creditor to have a legal document called a judgment. This judgment allows the creditor access to law enforcement who can seize any property not protected by state laws called exemptions. I am posting a description of these laws for all 50 states below. The creditor may require you to appear to testify about what you own and you must answer these questions honestly. You do not have the right to remain silent in civil court and must answer the questions. Hope this perspective helps!


  4. The other lawyers have given you a lot of good advice. Even though you are thinking that you cannot afford a lawyer, you really cannot afford not to consult with a lawyer. While student loan debt is very difficult to avoid, credit card debt can usually be negotiated -- sometimes for as little as 30 cents on the dollar and almost always with a payment plan. If you don't show up, you will be allowing default judgments to enter against you and the creditor will obtain the FULL amount claimed, usually plus court costs and fees, and this will hang over your head for at least 10 years. Worse, a creditor can renew the judgment at the 10 year mark, extending your financial woes even further.
    No matter how difficult it seems right now, you should scrape up the funds to at least consult with an attorney (some will even provide you with a free consultation).
    Good luck!

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