If Ihave just been served with a court summons for a debt, what should I do?

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If Ihave just been served with a court summons for a debt, what should I do?

Debt of $8409.17 plus costs. I have no assets, except a 5 year old car, no savings, I rent, and I’m unemployed (have been for over a year). I paid the bill for as long as I could, but eventually it was just too high to, particularly since the late fees and over-the-limit fees were being added each month. I used the card to pay the rent when I ran out of cash, which is how I ended up in the mess to begin with. What should I do? Is there any way that I can explain that I would love to repay this if only I could? What’s going to happen?

Asked on October 29, 2010 under Bankruptcy Law, Illinois

Answers:

Mike Harvath / Harvath Law

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

     Hi.  I am an Illinois attorney that handles debtor representation in most parts of the state as a part of my practice.  I am sorry to hear that the credit card company has filed suit against you, but I would encourage you not to panic, as there are ways to resolve these cases.

     The most important thing to remember is that, assuming that there is a court date in the papers you have received, either an attorney or you personally absolutely must appear in court on the date indicated.  If an attorney does not appear or you do not appear personally, the attorneys for the credit card company will take an automatic judgment against you for the full amount of the debt, plus interest, plus attorney fees.  They can then use legal processes to collect the judgment, including repossesing and forcing a sale of your assets.

     Most debtor attorneys are able to work with the attorneys for the credit card company and negotiate an agreement where you can make minimum monthly payments for amounts that you can afford, and the credit card company will then agree to dismiss the case against you.  Most attorneys can also get a fairly substantial extension of time before you will need to make some payments on the debt.  Occasionally, the total amount due can even be negotiated down.

     Not all of these cases require that you file a legal document called an "Answer".  Whether you need to file a formal Answer is determined by the court where the case has been filed at and the amount of the case (amount you owe).  Without knowing both of these details, I cannot determine if you need to prepare an Answer and what the deadline would be.

     I hope this helps at least some.

     I can be reached by e-mail at mth2000@yahoo.com, or by phone.

NOTE: This answer is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.  The use of this site does not create an attorney-client relationship or privilege between the user and the attorney responding.

S.J.H., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

You need to answer this summons if only to avoid a default judgmnet being entered against you. If you have a judgment against you the Plaintiff can collect in various different ways including garnishing your pay from work. By answering the summons you at least get an opportunity to tryand work out a payment plan with the other attorney. In this day and age, creditors understand the realities and are often willing to work with you on a payment plan you can live it. You need to contact teh court clerk of the court in which you are being sued to determine proper procedure because each state and municipality rules are different


IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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