Gauss Law Firm- Denver Bankruptcy Lawyers

What is a Judgement?

A judgement is an official court order that you owe money. When a creditor sues you over a debt they are seeking a judgement. Creditors cannot just declare that you have a judgement. They must sue you first and give you notice of the lawsuit and an opportunity to answer the complaint. You have rights to get paperwork and about a month to state in writing why you do not owe the money.

Occasionally, clients find that they have judgements even though no one served them with paperwork. This happens with dishonest collectors or collectors who have posted notice at the wrong address or served the wrong person. Generally though, if you have a judgement you will know about it. If in doubt you can check court records, as judgements are public records.

Creditors seek judgements because this is what allows them to “execute” against your property. What this means is that once they have the official court order they can garnish your wages attach your bank account and put a lien on your home. A judgement allows creditors to get at your property to satisfy the debt.

Judgements are good for 20 years in Colorado’s district courts and 6 years in the county courts. County courts handle most credit card related lawsuits. The creditor can apply to revive the judgement before the end of the applicable time period.

When are judgements enforceable? In county court a judgement creditor may immediately begin efforts to collect, and in district court the creditor must wait 14 days before attempting collection. As a practical matter, many debtors have longer than this as the creditors do not necessarily know where you work or where you bank. They can however serve you with interrogatories (written questions) in order to find this information about you.

This is where a debtor can actually run into criminal trouble in Colorado. If you are served with interrogatories and do not answer them, the creditor can ask the court to hold you in contempt of court. If you have gotten interrogatories, do not ignore them. Find a competent lawyer to answer the questions or look into a bankruptcy or to make a deal with the creditor.

Judgements can also appear on your credit report. In short judgements are to be avoided. Involving a lawyer when you are sued can help you avoid judgments and give you piece of mind about how the debt should be handled.