Respectfully, you're asking the wrong question. The question you need answered first is whether you have any grounds, after such a long period of time, to set-aside the default judgment.
The plaintiff has strong evidence showing you were served with process. Essentially, at this late date, you must prove you were not. That is frequently difficult to prove. I suggest you consult with an attorney, first, to determine if your proposed action as merit.
An attorney would have to review the court file and consult with you regarding the facts from your point of view to make such a determination. You should expect to pay at least several hundred dollars for such an opinion. If you’re good to go, the paperwork would be substantially more.
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The answer regarding cost will depend upon the basis for the motion to set aside. Will the motion be based upon Code of Civil Procedure section 473.5 or 473? Also, if the defendant contends he or she was never served, when did he or she first find out about the case, about the default, and how? Is this a limited jurisdiction or unlimited jurisdiction case? These critical factors will determine how much work an attorney must do in terms of legal research and preparation, which in turn will dictate how much money will be necessary for attorney's fees.
Frank W. Chen has been licensed to practice law in California since 1988. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice for a particular case. This Avvo.com posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, please consult with your own attorney.
The fact that the defendant was not "invited" to the prove-up hearing is irrelevant.
I assume you are NOT in small claims court. In this case, your court costs alone will run several hundred dollars since you must pay (a) a motion fee of $60 and (b) a first-appearance fee that is at least $ 370. Your lawyers fees will depend on what needs to be done to prepare the motion. I strongly doubt this is a one or two-hour job.
I strongly recommend that you hire a lawyer to speak about your chances of success on this motion, and to help you prepare the necessary papers.