This guide will explain some of the common steps needed to determine whether you can have a default judgment that was entered against you in New York State thrown out (i.e. vacated).
Act quickly once you learn of the judgment.
Many people only discover the existence of a default judgment when a creditor goes to enforce it via wage garnishment, a restraint on a bank account or when a property lien is holding up the sale or transfer of real property. As soon as you learn of the default judgment, you need to take action right away because any significant delays can potentially impact your ability to challenge the judgment later.
Get papers from the Court where the judgment was entered.
Once you learn of the default judgment, go to the Court where it was entered and ask for all the papers that are on file for the judgment and underlying lawsuit - including more specifically - the Summons, Complaint, the Affidavit of Service, Affidavit of Merit and the Judgment.
Contact an experienced and knowledgeable Debt-Defense attorney.
DO NOT FILE ANYTHING WITH THE COURT unless and until you consult with an attorney who specializes in debt defense matters. The Court Clerks may ask you why you need the papers you are requesting and may even direct you to fill out short forms to try and have the judgment vacated, but these forms are always insufficient to obtain your requested relief AND depending on the circumstances of your specific situation, you may be able to have the debt (and underlying lawsuit) completely thrown out. That is why it is crucial to have a licensed attorney review the papers and identify the arguments you must raise and file a proper motion.
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