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What Is a Consent Judgment?

George Simons | December 12, 2023

Summary: When you consent to a judgment, the court rules against you. Consent judgment means you acknowledge you owe the creditor money. However, a judgment is still a judgment. The creditor expects you to make consistent payments to the collection firm, and if you miss one of those payments, they may garnish your wages. Use SoloSuit to respond to a debt lawsuit and avoid a judgment against you.

When a debt collector is unsuccessful in securing repayment for the outstanding balance on an account, they routinely decide to escalate the matter to litigation by filing a debt collection lawsuit. If the debt collector prevails in the lawsuit, a judgment will probably be entered against you.

This judgment will then empower the debt collector to access your bank account, along with seizing certain financial and personal assets. There are different judgments that can be entered in a debt collection lawsuit, including a consent judgment.

In this article, we will discuss a consent judgment definition and what to expect when a debt collector files a lawsuit against you for a debt you allegedly owe.

Let's jump right in.

There are different types of judgments in debt collection cases

Generally, a judgment is considered an official order entered by a court. The judgment is deemed to be the decision of the court, based upon the facts and evidence presented by both parties involved in a case.

In debt collection lawsuits, there are three main types of judgements that could be granted:

  1. Consent judgment: A consent judgment is entered into a case when both parties agree to settle the debt. It is still considered a judgment against the defendant, but this type of judgment helps people avoid going to court over the matter.
  2. Summary judgment: This type of judgment is usually requested by one party in the case who claims that the other party does not have enough factual evidence to support their side of the case. When someone files a motion for summary judgment, they are requesting that the judgment be entered without a full trial or hearing.
  3. Default judgment: This is the most common type of judgment in debt collection cases. A default judgment is granted to the debt collector or creditor when the person they are suing fails to respond to the lawsuit. In other words, if you don't file an Answer to your lawsuit before your state's deadline, you lose the case by default.

Below, we will break down these different types of judgments a little further.

When a judgment is entered in a debt collection lawsuit, it empowers the creditor or debt collection agency to use advanced collection techniques to recover the outstanding balance owed on a delinquent account.

For example, if a debt collection agency like Asset Acceptance LLC or Cavalry SPV I LLC, establishes in court that you owe $8,000 on a delinquent credit card account, the court hearing the case could very well enter a judgment against you that declares you owe them the $8,000, as well as related costs, interest and legal fees.

Judgment creditors can garnish a portion of your earnings with each paycheck to satisfy the judgment.

Should you agree to a consent judgment?

When a debt collection lawsuit is filed, it does not mean that the parties stop negotiating. It is quite common for debt collection cases to be resolved after a lawsuit is filed, but before going to trial. If you can reach an amicable agreement with the debt collector on a settlement after a lawsuit has been filed, you may need to agree to a “consent judgment.”

This is where you and the debt collector file a notice with the court that an amicable agreement has been reached to resolve the lawsuit. Should I sign a consent judgment? Both you and the debt collector must sign the consent judgment and file it with the court to be reviewed and approved by the judge. Please remember that the consent judgment is not official unless the judge files and signs it.

The decision on whether to agree to a consent judgment is extremely important and could have significant ramifications on your financial future. For example, let's say you agree to a consent judgment whereby you agree to pay the creditor a portion of what is owed, but not the full amount.

The settlement is agreed upon, but the creditor then asks you to sign a consent judgment to resolve the active collection lawsuit. If you agree to the consent judgment, you effectively request that the judge presiding over the case to enter a judgment against you.

This is extremely risky since the adverse judgment against you could be reported to the three major credit bureaus, and it might torpedo your credit score. Some debt collectors try to circumvent this issue by assuring you they will not report the judgment or inform the credit bureaus.

That is nice, but it does not matter. Why? Because the major credit bureaus do not get adverse judgment data from collection agencies. Instead, they review the judgments entered by courts across the country.

As a result, if a credit bureau discovers a judgment against you, even if it was based on a mutual consent judgment settlement agreement, the credit bureau will add it to your credit report.

Here is a consent judgment sample.

What states allow a consent judgment?

Some exemptions limit the amount that a creditor can take. In some states, such as Florida, Idaho, Oklahoma, Maryland, Ohio, and Utah, exempt income is determined by federal wage garnishment limits–Title III of the CCPA.

A judgment debtor in Alaska, Connecticut, California, District of Columbia, New Hampshire, North Dakota, New Mexico, and Oregon can garnish wages up to 75% of your disposable income or 40 to 50 times the federal minimum wage, whichever is higher.

Three states protect 80-85% of the disposable income of judgment debtors - Massachusetts, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. Wage garnishment is prohibited in Texas, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and South Carolina.

Avoid having a judgment against you by filing a response with SoloSuit.

How is a judgment obtained?

There are various avenues for securing a judgment. Most people are familiar with the concept of judgment via trial. This is the forum of litigation most often glamorized on television through programs like Boston Legal and Ally McBeal.

In a debt collection lawsuit, when a collection agency goes to trial against you, they are hoping to secure a judgment from the court after presenting evidence and making arguments at a trial.

Besides a court-entered judgment via a trial, there is the potential for judgment to be entered through a pre-trial motion. Often, this is accomplished through a Motion for Summary Judgment.

A Motion for Summary Judgmnet can be entered by either party (meaning you could file this type of Motion if there is an indication that the debt collection agency lacks sufficient evidence to prevail at trial). At its core, a Motion for Summary Judgment is an argument focused on trying to convince the judge that no material facts are in dispute and, as a result, judgment should be entered without having to proceed to a trial.

For example, you signed a legal loan agreement, made no payments, and have no defense to why you're not paying. The creditor also must convince the judge that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. If the judge agrees with the creditor, the judge can enter a judgment against you with no trial taking place. The creditor should not win if there are any material (important) facts in dispute (for example, if you claim you didn't sign the agreement).

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What is a default judgment?

This is generally considered the most common type of judgment entered in debt collection lawsuits. It can be obtained when a defendant (i.e., you) fails to file an Answer to the debt collector's complaint within the stated filing period.

It is important to understand that ignoring the debt collector's lawsuit is never a good idea. Once a default judgment is entered, the debt collector will have the legal ability to seize various assets and even seek to garnish your wages.

File a Motion to Set Aside Judgment

If you were unaware that a lawsuit was entered against you, and you lost by default, you can file a Motion to Set Aside Judgment into the case. If granted, this motion will essentially reopen the case and allow you a chance to respond with your affirmative defenses.

A default judgment cannot be set aside (voided or nullified) by a motion unless you think the debt collector entered a judgment against you improperly.

A judge can set aside a default judgment for the following reasons, among others, according to NRCP 60 (b)- (c); JCRCP 60 (b)- (c):

  • You failed to defend yourself in court due to mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect.
  • Fraudulent, misleading, or other misconduct by the debt collector who filed the lawsuit. For example, Larry Ebert and Brian Striker, two officers working for the Credit Bureau Collection Services, violated the FTC Act and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act in 2010. In a consent agreement with the FTC, the nationwide debt collection bureau agreed to pay more than $1 million to settle charges that it illegally tried to collect consumer debts that had been repaid or did not belong to the debtors.
  • There has been satisfaction, release, or discharge of the judgment.
  • At the time of the judgment against you, you never received the summons and complaint in person.

The judge must agree that one of the above reasons applies to your particular situation and that your circumstances warrant setting aside your default judgment.

Depending on the specific reason for your motion, you have a specific deadline for filing a Motion to Set Aside Judgment. You must file within six months if you never received the Summons and Complaint, made a mistake or inadvertently served the judgment, or if any fraud, misrepresentation, or other misconduct occurred on the other side. If the judgment has been satisfied, released, or discharged, you must file your motion as soon as possible.

Key takeaways on consent judgment

Below is a summary of key points concerning consent judgments in debt collection lawsuits:

  • There are different types of legal judgments that can be entered into a debt collection lawsuit.
  • A consent judgment is typically ordered if you've reached an amicable resolution with the debt collector. They ask to agree to a consent judgment to resolve the active collection lawsuit.
  • You should weigh the pros and cons of whether it makes sense to agree to a consent judgment, since it might affect your credit score.
  • A 'settlement agreement' refers to an agreement between you and the debt collector to end a lawsuit. As for a consent judgment, both parties agree to terminate the litigation, which is recorded by the court as an order.

What is SoloSuit?

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You can use SoloSuit to respond to a debt lawsuit, to send letters to collectors, and even to settle a debt.

SoloSuit's Answer service is a step-by-step web-app that asks you all the necessary questions to complete your Answer. Upon completion, we'll have an attorney review your document and we'll file it for you.

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