I just found out that I’m being taken to court for small claims (credit card debt) very soon. I found out via a judicial case search for an unrelated parking ticket.
They have not served me as I now live in another state. It looks like they sent certified mail that was never picked up at the local post office. The court case is soon but I’m traveling during those dates and I no longer live in that state.
What should I do? I want to call the lawyer handling the case and work something out. I will pay the debt. But, I don’t want to show up to court and honestly can’t at this point.
If you have not been served (and no one has claimed that you have been served), then the trial date on case search is tentative: it is the date that the case would be reviewed if you were served in time. If you are unsure whether the court believes you have been served, call the clerk's office. Contacting the plaintiff's attorney will not change this. To be served you must be personally given the papers, or they must be left with a person of reasonable age and discretion living at the same address as you. Negotiating with the plaintiff's attorney doesn't necessarily mean that you will have to go to court.
If you cannot pay the debt, then you may wish to consider other options to address your general financial situation, such as filing bankruptcy if you have a large amount in outstanding debts that you cannot pay. You might also wish to contact the Consumer Credit Counseling Service to discuss your options more generally.
Even though you weren't personally served, these creditors' attorneys are savvy and may still try to serve you. Since this is hurting your credit score, you are always free to try to work out an arrangement with the attorney - they are often willing to work with people. If you end up settling, a 3-506(b) dismissal will probably be entered in the case, but it's your responsibility to know if you have to appear in court or not.
My answers are not intended as legal advice and are to be construed as general informational statements only.
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