You need to appear if you are required to do so. Your answer is not in lieu of an appearance. You would benefit from a consultation with a consumer debt or collections attorney, especially one who handles the defense side.
Based on your question it sounds like this is a collection company opposed to an original creditor, if so you should speak with a collection defense attorney before you do anything.
Many of us give free consultations, and even if one charges you it will likely be a wise investment.
If you have been served, do not ignore this and do not skip a court date, doing so will result in you being defaulted and waiving any defenses you have to the claim. If you are going to represent yourself you will need to personally appear on every court date.
You are proceeding under several false presumptions. First, if a court date is scheduled for Jan. 2, that means, in all likelihood, that you're already in default on this since you mentioned that you haven't filed an "answer" to the complaint. Filing an answer, assuming you haven't already done so, would have been required long before a court date was scheduled. More important, however, is this basic fact - you don't deny owing the money. You've admitted it to the law firm. You've made payments to the law firm. There is no way you're not going to have a judgment entered against you. None. So, what you're really looking for here is some kind of deal to settle this. Let's be 100% clear - you are not entitled to a "deal." No one is. Just because you want one doesn't mean the creditor has to give it. If they think their better option is to simply obtain the judgment and then garnish your pay or levy your accounts, that's what they'll do, and there is nothing on earth you can do about it. Now, you can certainly contact them and make some kind of proposal, but it probably won't involve making payments - they'll want a lump sum immediately. They aren't going to wait some indefinite period of time to get it. Frankly, it's a waste of time to litigate this - there is nothing in dispute here. You owe the debt. The question now is how it is going to be paid.
Answers on Avvo are not to be considered a response to a specific legal issue in a specific jurisdiction - they are to be considered only general responses to hypothetical scenarios posed by the questioner. For specific legal advice, please consult with a licensed attorney in your jurisdiction. No information contained herein should be construed as a solicitation for business, an offer to perform legal services in any jurisdiction in which the attorneys of Corbin Law Office are not licensed, or the dissemination of legal advice. No creation of an attorney-client relationship should be assumed or implied. We are a debt relief agency. Corbin Law Office helps people file for bankruptcy relief under the bankruptcy code.
Call a bankruptcy lawyer right away to discuss your options. If this is your only debt, it may or may not be worth it to file for bankruptcy. However, by the time you spend money on defending yourself, you may be better off with bankruptcy, which will eliminate the debt, if you qualify. Also, even defending the claim will not guarantee that you win or can get a better settlement.
If you have other debts as well, bankruptcy may be best way to go. Bottom line, call and set up an appointment with a Bankruptcy lawyer in your area to review your options.
Daniel J. Winter
Offices in Chicago, Gurnee, Oak Lawn, and Skokie, IL
Any advice given is general in nature and cannot be relied upon until the client retains the attorney after a full interview and review of the facts of the situation. No attorney-client relationship exists until a retainer agreement is signed and fees are paid.