Dena Standley | October 24, 2022
Summary: New Jersey does not have an online case access tool, so you must call the court clerk or visit the courthouse if you are trying to stay up-to-date on the status of your lawsuit. If you’ve been sued for a debt, you should watch the court records closely and use SoloSuit to respond to the case with a written Answer.
Do you feel your life has come to a standstill because of the debt collection lawsuit you received? You are not alone. Consumers who’ve been sued for debt often despair and wonder what to do to avoid plunging deeper into financial trouble. The New Jersey judicial system helps you feel empowered about your case. The state allows you to access your court records in person at the courthouse where the case is filed.
How does being able to view your court records benefit you? For starters, it helps you stay updated on how your case is progressing, and you will avoid missing important filing deadlines and court dates. You can also check if the information the debt collectors have on you is accurate. If not, you can use it in your favor. Let’s discuss how New Jersey courts work and how you can find your case records.
Understanding New Jersey’s court structure will help you understand which court has jurisdiction over your case. Since debt collection lawsuits are considered civil cases, we will focus on New Jersey civil courts in this section.
New Jersey's civil court structure consists of three levels: Supreme Court, Appellate Division of Superior Court, and Superior Courts. Let's briefly discuss each”
Your debt collection case will most likely be heard in your county’s Superior Court Law Division under the Special Civil Part Division—small claims section. Any claim above $5,000 is filed in the Civil Division of the Superior Court.
The graphic below further outlines New Jersey’s civil court structure:
If you’ve been sued for a debt in New Jersey, you have 35 days to respond before you lose automatically. If you lose by default, the person or company suing you can garnish your wages or seize your property. You can avoid a default judgment by responding to the case with a written Answer.
Check out this video to learn more about how to respond to a debt collection lawsuit and win:
A case number is crucial to remember if you plan to access your court records regularly. This number enables the court clerk to organize the court files and ensure records can be found quickly and easily. The case number is derived from the court or case type, the year the case was filed, the following number of cases admitted, and the county initials.
For example, case number MER-DC-000001-22 is the first court case filed into Mercer County in 2022.
You can find your case number by visiting the courthouse where the case is filed and submitting a written request to the court clerk. All you have to do is provide your name and they should be able to find the case number for you.
Secondly, you can find your case number online by going to the New Jersey Public Access Portal and choosing the party name search option. Fill in the details and click the search button. Your case number will appear together with other case information.
New Jersey's organized record-keeping system allows you to access your records within minutes when you physically go to the courthouse or while searching online. Choose the option that most favors your schedule.
Going to the courthouse to request your records guarantees you’ll get a more detailed document than online access in some counties. To find your courthouse location, use this New Jersey court directory. Once on the page, look for your county and click on it. You’ll be redirected to another page with the court contact information.
In the courthouse, the custodian will give you a form to fill out, or you can print the form from home or the office and complete it. The court custodian will use the submitted form to look for your records. Public terminals are also available in some courthouses where you can view your case documents or ask the court custodian to make copies for you after finding them.
Let’s look at a practical example.
Example: Paul had a debt of $1,857 with SaVit Collection Agency. He had repeatedly ignored their attempts to collect until they delivered a lawsuit to his home. Paul used SoloSuit to draft and file a written Answer to the case. Since Paul’s county courthouse was a few minutes from his home, he visited the courthouse frequently to stay up to date on the status of his case. He even submitted a completed form and received copies of his case documents after paying a small fee.
Unfortunately at this time, New Jersey does not offer an online tool where consumers, like you, can access their court documents. That being said, you can avoid leaving the comfort of you home by calling the court clerk to ask about the status of your case.
While calling the clerk won’t get you any physical records, it will still allow you to check your case status and know if any new action has been taken against you. When you stay updated on the happenings of your lawsuit, you will increase your chances of winning because you’ll give yourself more time to prepare a response to each action.
Like the courthouse addresses, you can find the court clerk’s contact information for your county on the New Jersey court directory.
Let’s take a look at another example.
Example: Simon is being sued in New Jersey by a debt collector for an old credit card debt. The debt is so old that Simon hardly remembers anything about it. After doing some research online, Simons finds out that the statute of limitations on this debt has expired. He uses SoloSuit to respond to the lawsuit, and in his Answer, he uses the expired statute of limitations as one of his affirmative defenses. Since he lives pretty far from the courthouse, Simon calls the court clerk once a week to keep up with the status of his case. After several weeks have passed, Simons finds out the case has been dismissed.
SoloSuitt helps consumers deal with their debt situation by offering documents for every stage of the debt collection process. We have a Debt Validation Letter that requests the creditor to validate the debt before a lawsuit is file. Our Answer document helps you respond to a pending debt collection lawsuit. In addition, we have a Motion to Compel Arbitration document that forces a credit card debt out of court using the arbitration clause and a SoloSettle tool that helps you reach a debt settlement with the person or company suing you. Choose the document that best suits your current need.
"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
You can ask your questions on the SoloSuit forum and the community will help you out. Whether you need help now or are just looking for support, we're here for you.
Here's a list of guides for other states.
Being sued by a different debt collector? Were making guides on how to beat each one.
Is your credit card company suing you? Learn how you can beat each one.
Need more info on statutes of limitations? Read our 50-state guide.
Need help managing your finances? Check out these resources.