What happens when you have a judgement against you?

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What happens when you have a judgement against you?

I can’t file bankruptcy and am not eligible for pro bono services. I may file Chapter 7 myself as a last resort. What is truly the worst that can happen? I am aware they can/will sue, get a judgement. But since I cannot pay, what are the consequences afterwards? And where can I find the most comprehensive information to consumer debt as it applies to my state? I will need to decide whether it’s in my best interest to file pro se or just simply allow the chips the fall where they may.

Asked on March 28, 2012 under Bankruptcy Law, Virginia


Darren Delafield

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor


You should consult with a lawyer to see if you are "judgment proof." The phrase is not a legal term but a term used by debt collectors. It is their way of describing someone from whom they cannot collect a debt even if they have a judgment.


If a creditor has a judgment docketed in Virginia, it can garnish 25% of your paycheck if your income is above the minimum cut off. You generally cannot garnish an individual working part time for minimum wage because he or she is below the cutoff. Some creditors like the IRS or child support enforcement can garnish more than 25%.


If a creditor has a judgment docketed in Virginia, it can attempt to garnish 100% of your bank account, but not more than the amount of the judgment.


If a creditor has a judgment docketed in Virginia, it can ask that the Sheriff be sent to seize luxury goods to be sold at a Sheriff sale.


A judgment can be enforced for 10 years, and in some cases 20 years. If you inherit property or obtain gainful employment during that time, the judgment may come back to haunt you. That is why bankruptcy is called a "fresh start."


If a creditor has a judgment docketed in Virginia, it can order you to come to court every 6 months to answer questions under oath. This is called a summons to answer interrogatories. If you do not appear, the Judge can hold you in contempt of court.


Debtors prison does NOT exist in Virginia. Do not let the creditor scare you by stating it will send the Sheriff with a Warrant. A Warrant in Debt is the form used to file a civil law suit in General District Court. It is not required that it be served by a Sheriff, but the Sheriff is on the approved list of individuals who is authorized to serve the notice of the civil law suit.


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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