Start My Answer

What Happens After a Motion for Default Is Filed?

Chloe Meltzer | January 31, 2024

Edited by Hannah Locklear

Summary: When you get sued for a debt, you have to respond before the deadline or the collectors can file a motion for default judgment. If granted, the default judgment gives debt collectors the right to take your money without your permission. If a default judgment has been ordered against you, use SoloSuit to file a Motion to Vacate Judgment, and give yourself another chance to Answer the case and fight back.

If you have borrowed money or used a credit card that you are unable to pay back, you may have been sued by either your original creditor or a debt buyer. When this happens you will have anywhere from 20 to 30 days to respond to the summons. If you do not respond in time, then you will have a default judgment entered against you.

Also known as a motion for default, having a default judgment placed against you is a method used to expedite cases where you do not show up in court. If you are looking to get out of the default judgment, then you will need to file a motion to vacate or set aside judgment.

Avoid default judgment by responding with SoloSuit.

What Is a default judgment?

When you are given notice of a court case against you, you will be given a specific amount of time to appear in court or file a written Answer to the suit. Your summons will dictate this timeframe. If you do not respond then you will be given a default judgment.

The default judgment allows the creditor or debt collector to collect the amount that you owe using various methods. Here’s a real motion for default judgment that was filed in a debt collection case:

If a motion for default on a debt is filed against you, you run the risk of having your wages garnished and your bank account frozen.

Wage garnishment is a legal procedure where your earnings are court-ordered to be withheld by your employer, to repay debt. Legally, your employer cannot fire you because of this. “Wages” are considered income, salaries, commissions, bonuses, and retirement or pension income.

Another method of collection is done by bank levy. This is essentially freezing your bank account. This allows the debt collector or creditor to freeze your account and take the amount that you owe from your account.

What happens after a motion for default is filed?

After a motion for default is filed, the judge must review the case to determine if the motion should be granted. Below is a real order for default judgment, but note that it has not been signed by a judge yet, meaning the judgment has not been granted in this case yet:

If you’ve been sued for debt and receive a motion for default in the mail, don’t panic. This doesn’t mean that you’ve lost the case just yet, but it does mean you need to act in order to avoid losing automatically.

The court will review the case and issue a rejection or order. If the motion is rejected, you still have a chance to fight back in court. If the judge orders a motion for default, then you still have a chance to fight back, but you must first file a motion to vacate or set aside the judgment.

File a motion to vacate judgment to reverse a default judgment

If you believe that the default judgment should not have been entered against you, then you can file a motion to vacate. Essentially, when you file your Motion to Vacate affidavit to Set Aside Default, you are asking them to allow you to go back to court to fight the debt.

After filing a motion for default, you will get a hearing date and time from the court clerk. Although it is not a guarantee that the motion will be accepted, you at least will have a chance.

At the hearing, the judge will decide to grant or deny the motion. If the judge grants your motion, the default or a default judgment will be set aside, and the case will move forward.

There are several reasons the court will set aside a default judgment

Each state varies in its laws, so you will need to look in the Rules of Civil Procedure for your state. Most state’s rules are based upon the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, therefore you should look at Rule 60. This rule states six reasons why a court can set aside a default judgment:

  1. Mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect
  2. Newly discovered evidence which by due diligence could not have been discovered in the prior proceeding
  3. Fraud
  4. The judgment is void
  5. The judgment has been satisfied, released, or discharged
  6. Any other reason justifying release from the judgment

For whatever reason you are asking the court for a motion to set aside the judgment, you will need to take the next steps quickly. The longer you wait to ask for a judgment to be set aside after a motion for default, the less likely they will be willing to do so.

Make the right affirmative defenses the right way with SoloSuit.

You still have options after a default judgment

Settle the judgment

If you do not have a good reason for the judgment to be set aside, then you may want to look into a settlement. Settlements involve either paying off the debt in full or agreeing to pay off the debt over a specific period of time in multiple payments.

Despite this, after a motion to vacate a judgment has been refused, it can be difficult to attempt to settle the debt. At this point, you will have taken up a lot of the creditor or debt collector’s time, and therefore they may be less likely to settle for a lower amount.

You will then need to decide if you can afford to settle with one lump sum or with monthly payments. Typically if you choose to settle it in a lump sum, you will be able to do so for a lower amount than if you pay it off over time.

File for bankruptcy

Although bankruptcy should be your last choice when it comes to debt, it is an option. Typically if you are suffering from a variety of debt issues is the only time that you should choose to file bankruptcy.

If you do decide to file for bankruptcy then it will not only eliminate the judgment but also your other debts. It will be a serious hit to your credit and may make it difficult to buy a home or even find a rental unit.

After a motion for default is filed it means you have a judgment entered against you. At this point, you must begin responding and attempt to have the court set it aside. This is truly your only hope to begin fighting the debt once again and to avoid wage garnishment.

Respond to the lawsuit to avoid default judgment

Most debt collection cases end in default because people don’t know how to respond. It’s actually quite simple to answer a debt lawsuit. All you have to do is draft and file a written Answer before your state’s deadline.

SoloSuit can help you respond to a debt lawsuit in any state.

Not sure how long you have to respond to your debt lawsuit? Use this debt lawsuit deadline calculator to determine your state’s deadline:

Deadline Calculator

Select your state.

Select the day you were served.

Your deadline

This calculator is for educational purposes only. It does not factor in weekends or holidays, so your actual deadline may be some days later.

How to Answer a Summons for debt collection in all 50 states

Here's a list of guides on how to respond to a debt collection lawsuit in each state:

The Ultimate 50 State Guide

Guides on how to resolve debt with every debt collector

Are you being sued by a debt collector? We’re making guides on how to resolve debt with each one.

Resolve your debt with your creditor

Some creditors, banks, and lenders have an internal collections department. If they come after you for a debt, Solosuit can still help you respond and resolve the debt. Here’s a list of guides on how to resolve debt with different creditors.

Settle your medical debt

Having a health challenge is stressful, but dealing medical debt on top of it is overwhelming. Here are some resources on how to manage medical debt.

Guides on arbitration

If the thought of going to court stresses you out, you’re not alone. Many Americans who are sued for credit card debt utilize a Motion to Compel Arbitration to push their case out of court and into arbitration.

Below are some resources on how to use an arbitration clause to your advantage and win a debt lawsuit.

Stop calls from debt collectors

Do you keep getting calls from an unknown number, only to realize that it’s a debt collector on the other line? If you’ve been called by any of the following numbers, chances are you have collectors coming after you, and we’ll tell you how to stop them.

Federal debt collection laws can protect you

Knowing your rights makes it easier to stand up for your rights. Below, we’ve compiled all our articles on federal debt collection laws that protect you from unfair practices.

Get debt relief in your state

We’ve created a specialized guide on how to find debt relief in all 50 states, complete with steps to take to find relief, state-specific resources, and more.

Debt collection laws in all 50 states

Debt collection laws vary by state, so we have compiled a guide to each state’s debt collection laws to make it easier for you to stand up for your rights—no matter where you live.

Statute of limitations on debt state guides

Like all debt collection laws, the statute of limitations on debt varies by state. So, we wrote a guide on each state’s statutes. Check it out below.

Statute of Limitations on Debt Collection by State (Best Guide)

Check the status of your court case

Don’t have time to go to your local courthouse to check the status of your case? We’ve created a guide on how to check the status of your case in every state, complete with online search tools and court directories.

How to stop wage garnishment in your state

Forgot to respond to your debt lawsuit? The judge may have ordered a default judgment against you, and with a default judgment, debt collectors can garnish your wages. Here are our guides on how to stop wage garnishment in all 50 states.

How to settle a debt in your state

Debt settlement is one of the most effective ways to resolve a debt and save money. We’ve created a guide on how to settle your debt in all 50 states. Find out how to settle in your state with a simple click and explore other debt settlement resources below.

How to settle with every debt collector

Not sure how to negotiate a debt settlement with a debt collector? We are creating guides to help you know how to start the settlement conversation and increase your chances of coming to an agreement with every debt collector.

Other debt settlement resources

Personal loan and debt relief reviews

We give a factual review of the following debt consolidation, debt settlement, and loan organizations and companies to help you make an informed decision before you take on a debt.

Civil law legal definitions

You can represent yourself in court. Save yourself the time and cost of finding an attorney, and use the following resources to understand legal definitions better and how they may apply to your case.

Get answers to these FAQs on debt collection

How-to debt guides

Learn more with these additional debt resources