So far in 2022, we have eliminated over $9.2 million of client debt!
(This does not include debt eliminated by bankruptcy filings)
Judgment Contests, Settlement, & Lien Removal Attorneys in Santa Ana
Guidance Through Complicated Legal Processes
Judgments are Financial Cancer: many times unfair, they grow very quickly, and can destroy any financial future. You must get serious about resolving them.
If you are a California consumer with a money judgment against you, you should know that:
- Judgments can be overturned
- Judgments can be settled for less than 100%
- Judgments can be resolved without filing bankruptcy
Featured Case Results
- December 17, 2021: A Judgment against our client in the amount of $35,062.00 was settled for $15,000.00! Saving our client 57%! (John Deere Construction & Forestry Company – The Dunning Law Firm, APC – v. Client. Case #19ECV011XX- Los Angeles County)
- December 01, 2021: A Judgment against our client in the amount of $15,532.00 was settled for $4,000.00! Saving our client 74%! (Dodeka, LLC- Financial Recovery Services, Inc – v. Client. Case #VCL1272XX – Tulare County)
- December 01, 2021: A Judgment against our client in the amount of $26,711.00 was settled for $6,000.00! Saving our client 77%! (Asset Acceptance LLC- Midland Funding, LLC – v. Client. Case #34-2012-001239XX-CL-CL-GDS – Sacramento County)
- June 4, 2021: A judgment against our client in the amount of $224,182 was settled for $45,000, saving our client 79%! (Fleishman, Fisher & Moest – Jacob J Stettin v. Client. Case #SC0428XX)
- June 3, 2021: A judgment against our client in the amount of $98,258 was settled for $10,000, saving our client 89%! ()
- January 5, 2021: A renewal of a judgment against our client in the amount of $14,491.25 was deemed unenforceable, as the 10-year expiration date had passed. The court ruled in favor of our client and the renewal was vacated, saving our client 100%! ()
See more results here.
There Are Only Three Ways to Get Rid of a Judgment
- Motion to Vacate (set aside the judgment)
- Settle it (give them money in exchange for a Satisfaction of Judgment)
- File bankruptcy
Which should you do? Timing is a big part of this decision — DO NOT DELAY!
Motion to Vacate
If a judgment is entered against you without proper notice to you, you can ask the court to “set it aside” and allow you to defend the case. This requires a court order and a hearing in front of a judge. This is not a simple thing to do and requires an experienced attorney who has done it many times before. At Fitzgerald & Campbell, we have done thousands of these motions. We know what judges are looking for, and most times, our clients are not required to be in court. If the judgment is vacated, you will then be allowed to litigate the case and you will have a far better chance of resolving the case to your satisfaction.
Timing in attacking the judgment is usually the biggest problem: The first thing we do is determine if the judgment is defective and can be overturned. Even if all you want to do is settle the judgment, you will get a far better settlement once the judgment is “set aside”. Even just the threat of a Motion to Vacate by a respected attorney who has done it many times will get you a better settlement.
Once you become aware of a judgment that you contend is defective, you generally only have six months to make the motion. After that, most judges will not grant your motion — even if everyone agrees you were not served properly and even if you do not owe it! Do not ignore this “six-month rule.”
In addition to that, if your judgment is more than two years old, you will need to establish that you have a defense to the case — that is, that you don’t owe it! So, if you do owe it but you were not served correctly, the judgment will still stand.
You should also remember that if you win the Motion to Vacate, the case is not over (unless you are vacating a renewed judgment). This is important if you do in fact owe the money, because you can win the “battle” of the Motion to Vacate but lose the “war” of the lawsuit. This is why we sometimes recommend settlement, because ultimately you may pay them anyway. It does not make sense to pay your lawyer to make a Motion to Vacate when you are just going to settle the case afterwards.
Motion to Vacate case study: Asset Acceptance v client Case No 11C015XX. Client hired us to file a Motion to Set Aside. He was not served properly. In fact, as active military he was served when he was overseas, and default was entered without his knowledge. We reached out to opposing counsel prior to filing the motion and see if they would stipulate to set aside or dismiss the action due to military status. They agreed and stipulated to set aside the judgment and dismiss the case with prejudice. We were also able to have the lien removed from his house.
Motion to Vacate Case study: Lobel Financial Corp v. Client - Case No. 07CR16XX. Client hired us to file a Motion to Set Aside/Vacate Renewal of Judgment. Our client was not served properly and in fact served our client's underage brother. The Judge granted our motion and then dismissed the case!
At Fitzgerald & Campbell, our goal is to get you out of debt for as little as possible. All Costs are included in our fee and any settlement you may pay. If the case can be won or the settlement reduced by making the motion, do so!
The point is, you must get good strong legal advice and remember the end game: Pay as little as possible to everyone!
Defense of Judgment Enforcements and Lien Removal
Timing in protecting your assets: If the judgment stands and cannot be overturned, the next analysis is: Do you have anything that can be taken from you? If so, we will advise you on how to best protect yourself from bank levies, wage garnishments, property liens, and asset seizures. Do NOT delay if you even think they are trying to take anything from you such as your money, or business, or your house!
*** Always remember that a spouse’s assets and wages can also be attached, even if the judgment is before the marriage. California is a community property state and therefore judgment creditors can get community assets!
Timing in making Claims of Exemption: If your wages are being garnished or your bank account has been levied, the time period to file a claim of exemption is very short. The failure to timely file your claim can forever bar you from going to the court and asking for relief from the garnishment or levy. Many times we will simply advise you on how to do this yourself. If it makes sense to hire an attorney to defend you, we do so at very affordable rates. We have been successful many times at terminating a wage garnishment and getting money returned.
Judgment Liens can get Complicated: California law does allow judgment creditors to sell your residence under certain circumstances. It can get very complicated. Even if they don’t try to sell your home, the lien against your real estate will just grow and grow and grow…. You must resolve judgment liens or you will be making payments toward a home that you will never own.
Settlement (Satisfaction of Judgment)
When you settle a judgment, what you must get in return is a filed “Satisfaction of Judgment.” This is a special court form that must be filed in the courthouse. It MUST be filed by the judgment creditor (debtors cannot file it).
Judgments can be “satisfied” by paying less than the full amount, but you must have the judgment creditor’s agreement (which should always be in writing). Creditors are notorious for going back on their word, not wanting written settlement agreements, and even failing to file the Satisfaction of Judgment when required. The last thing you want to have happen is to think you have settled your judgment, make all the payments, only to discover the judgment creditor says you must pay more.
Although there are many factors that go into what a judgment will settle for, there are three main factors:
- Who is the Judgment Creditor? Are they a bank? A debt buyer? A hospital? A former business partner? Understanding who is coming for your assets is critical to your success in resolving the amount at a discount.
- Who are YOU financially? For example, a retired person living in a nursing home on social security will get a better settlement than a person with a million-dollar home who makes $200K per year.
- How quickly will they get paid? A single lump-sum payment will always be a lower settlement than a payment plan over five years. I always tell people: OWE SOMEONE ELSE (borrow if you have to in order to settle a judgment)
Fitzgerald & Campbell can get your judgment satisfied for less than the full balance, get a proper settlement agreement, and ensure the creditor files all necessary court documentation to ensure the judgment is closed.
The successful completion of a bankruptcy filing will eliminate most judgments. Judgments for fraud, elder abuse, and student loans are some of the exceptions. A bankruptcy filing will also place a “stay” on all wage garnishments, levies, and other judgment enforcement actions. Many times, this is the fastest and least expensive way to get rid of a judgment. Naturally, you must qualify for bankruptcy, and there are other ramifications to filing a bankruptcy.
It is also important to note that discharging a judgment in a bankruptcy does not automatically discharge or remove judgment liens filed against any real estate. A judgment lien is a separate legal instrument and is “secured” when recorded against real estate prior to the filing of any bankruptcy. Therefore, most judgment liens will need to be settled, even after a bankruptcy!
What’s the First Step?
CALL US! At no cost to you, you can speak to an experienced attorney who can take you through all your options. We will get the necessary documents from the court for you. It takes hard work and know-how to resolve judgments for less than 100%, but it can be done. Fitzgerald & Campbell settles judgments for less on behalf of satisfied clients nearly every day.
If you have a judgment and don’t know where to turn, contact us right away, even if you are being garnished or levied. Get the free advice and the protection and experience you need and deserve. You may be surprised by how easy and affordable it is to get knowledgeable and experienced attorneys working for you.
10 Reasons to Have Fitzgerald & Campbell Handle Your Judgment
- As a client of Fitzgerald & Campbell, you have access to some of the most experienced lawyers when it comes to protecting consumers from judgments.
- We provide immediate answers to questions like: Can I close my bank account? Must I appear in court? Do I have to tell them where I work? And many more.
- You won’t have to speak to collectors and their lawyers anymore! We take that over for you.
- We know what to look for in determining if a judgment is defective.
- We know how to win Motions to Vacate.
- We know how to make sure that exempt money, such as Social Security benefits and many other types, is not taken from you.
- We know how to make sure that once you make any payment, you are getting credit for everything you have paid, and that the judgment will be deemed “satisfied.”
- We are highly motivated and work tirelessly to get you the best deal possible.
- We are affordable, prompt, and most importantly, WE CARE about you.
Schedule Your Free Consultation
Call (844) 431-3851 or use our contact formto speak with a representative 24/7. One of our case analysts will get in touch with you to schedule your consultation.