February 10, 2021
Summary: Being judgment proof might sound like a good thing. But it's not. Learn why being judgment proof is not a defense to a lawsuit.
When it comes to debt, Americans have a lot of it. Debt occurs when you don't pay your credit card bill, or if you fail to make payments on a loan. When this happens the creditor or a debt collector can sue you for the money you owe. Although in many instances you will be forced to pay this debt, if you are considered “judgment proof" then a creditor may not be able to go after your income. Despite this, being judgment proof is never a defense to a lawsuit.
After a creditor wins a debt lawsuit against you, they will obtain a judgment. You are considered “judgment proof” if you do not make much income. You also most likely do not have much money in the bank, or assets that a creditor would be able to take from you to pay off your judgment.
If you are judgment proof, it also means that creditors will not be able to garnish your income. Especially if you do not have assets, personal property, or savings. Although being judgment proof does not protect you from a judgment, it simply means that the creditor cannot collect on it.
You might be judgment proof if the following applies to you:
When a creditor seeks to garnish your wages, they often do so by taking a percentage of your paycheck. Legally, this cannot be more than 25% of your disposable earnings or the amount of 30 times the federal minimum wage. This can vary from state to state. But if your income is exempt from seizure, your wages cannot be garnished at all.
Creditors cannot attempt to satisfy your debt from any of the following sources:
Although it may feel that being judgment proof provides you protection, it is important to understand that it is not permanent. This means that even if you are judgment proof, you must respond to all of your debts. If your financial situation improves or you begin working, then the creditor may attempt to continue to pursue the debt.
Although judgment proof means that a creditor cannot pursue your income, it is only a pause. The judgment does not disappear. And judgments are valid for up to 20 years! This is why it is always better to use a valid defense to a lawsuit.
For example, you may be able to defend yourself by asking for proof of the lawsuit. If the creditor or debt collector can not provide proof of the original debt, then the case may be thrown out. Another opportunity for defense is that of the statute of limitations. If these have expired, then you may have your debt dismissed.
Overall, you must weigh your options and ensure that you respond to the debt. Judgments do not go away. And being judgment proof is never a defense!
SoloSuit makes it easy to respond to a debt collection lawsuit.
How it works: SoloSuit is a step-by-step web-app that asks you all the necessary questions to complete your answer. Upon completion, you can either print the completed forms and mail in the hard copies to the courts or you can pay SoloSuit to file it for you and to have an attorney review the document.
"First time getting sued by a debt collector and I was searching all over YouTube and ran across SoloSuit, so I decided to buy their services with their attorney reviewed documentation which cost extra but it was well worth it! SoloSuit sent the documentation to the parties and to the court which saved me time from having to go to court and in a few weeks the case got dismissed!" – James
Here's a list of guides for other states.
Being sued by a different debt collector? We're making guides on how to beat each one.
Need more info on statutes of limitations? Read our 50-state guide.
Need help managing your finances? Check out these resources.