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If you have been served with a Summons and Complaint, then you have been sued. After being served you have roughly 30 days (depending on jurisdiction) to file an Answer. An Answer addresses the allegations in the Complaint. For example, the Complaint may state something like:
(1) Defendant signed an agreement to pay $5000 in monthly installments of $500.
(2) Defendant has defaulted on the aforementioned agreement and is in arrears in the amount of $1500.
Your Answer must address the allegations like so:
(1) Count 1 of the Complaint if hereby admitted.
(2) Count 2 of the Complaint is hereby denied.
If you do not file a timely Answer, then the Plaintiff will win by default. In other words, the judge will treat your failure to file an Answer as an admission of the entire Complaint, and he will award a judgment in favor of the Plaintiff. If you file an Answer and deny various allegations, then a trial will be scheduled and the Plaintiff will need to prove the allegations in the Complaint.
If a judgment is awarded against you, your credit report/score will be negatively affected. However, the affect will not be as bad as a bankruptcy (a bankruptcy is the worst thing you can do to your credit). However, the Plaintiff will be able to attempt to collect on the judgment by doing things such as garnishing your wages and bank accounts, or placing a lien on your property and selling it. This is dependent on state law, so some methods of collection may not apply to you (for example, in Pennsylvania and North Carolina, wages cannot normally be garnished).
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DISCLAIMER: Please understand that the complexities of most legal problems cannot be sufficiently addressed in this setting. Accordingly, my post is intended as general information only, and should neither be construed as specific legal advice, nor as an adequate substitute for the retention of legal counsel.
If I understand you correctly, a JUDGEMENT is a public record, that forces you to pay ,otherwise, act as a lien on property in the state of Georgia. Isn't that as bad as filing chapter 7 ? No, it's not as bad as a bankruptcy. A judgment says that you haven't paid one debt. A bankruptcy says that you haven't paid any debts, and that you're never going to pay them. my fear is them taking me to court and the judge allows them to ask for an amount that I know I can't afford to make. What are my rights with respect to a judgement entered against me. It sounds like a judgement gives the creditor a green light to making my life miserable. Unfortunately, it is true that a judgment creditor can make your life miserable. He is entitled to go after any of your property (including money) that is not exempt under Georgia law. In Georgia, unless you are living on minimum wage (or close to it), then 75% of your disposable income (i.e. income that is not deducted by law, like taxes) is exempt. That means 25% of your disposable income is not exempt, and that is the amount that can be garnished (you can see exemptions for other property HERE – for example, $5000 of your homestead is exempt). Here is the specific Georgia law dealing with garnishments:
§ 18-4-20. Property subject to garnishment generally; claim amount and defendant's social security number on summons; information to be contained on summons of garnishment upon financial institution
(a) As used in this Code section, the term:
(1) "Disposable earnings" means that part of the earnings of an individual remaining after the deduction from those earnings of the amounts required by law to be withheld.
(2) "Earnings" means compensation paid or payable for personal services, whether denominated as wages, salary, commission, bonus, or otherwise, and includes periodic payments pursuant to a pension or retirement program.
(b) All debts owed by the garnishee to the defendant at the time of service of the summons of garnishment upon the garnishee and all debts accruing from the garnishee to the defendant from the date of service to the date of the garnishee's answer shall be subject to process of garnishment; and no payment made by the garnishee to the defendant or to his order, or by any arrangement between the defendant and the garnishee, after the date of the service of the summons of garnishment upon the garnishee, shall defeat the lien of such garnishment.
(c) All property, money, or effects of the defendant in the possession or control of the garnishee at the time of service of the summons of garnishment upon the garnishee or coming into the possession or control of the garnishee at any time from the date of service of the summons of garnishment upon the garnishee to the date of the garnishee's answer shall be subject to process of garnishment except, in the case of collateral securities in the hands of a creditor, such securities shall not be subject to garnishment so long as there is an amount owed on the debt for which the securities were given as collateral.
(d) (1) Notwithstanding subsection (a) of this Code section, the maximum part of the aggregate disposable earnings of an individual for any work week which is subject to garnishment may not exceed the lesser of:
(A) Twenty-five percent of his disposable earnings for that week; or
(B) The amount by which his disposable earnings for that week exceed 30 times the federal minimum hourly wage prescribed by Section 6(a)(1) of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, U.S.C. Title 29, Section 206(a)(1), in effect at the time the earnings are payable.
(2) In case of earnings for a period other than a week, a multiple of the federal minimum hourly wage equivalent in effect to that set forth in subparagraph (B) of paragraph (1) of this subsection shall be used.
(e) The limitation on garnishment set forth in subsection (d) of this Code section shall apply although the garnishee may receive a summons of garnishment in more than one garnishment case naming the same defendant unless the garnishee has received a summons of garnishment based on a judgment for alimony or the support of a dependent, in which case the limitation on garnishment set forth in subsection (f) of this Code section shall apply although the garnishee may receive a summons of garnishment in more than one garnishment case naming the same defendant. No garnishee shall withhold from the disposable earnings of the defendant any sum greater than the amount prescribed by subsection (d) or subsection (f) of this Code section, as applicable, regardless of the number of summonses served upon the garnishee.
Unfortunately, even if 25% of your disposable income is more than the $150 that you can afford, you will not have much choice in the matter because of the law I quoted above. Judgments can certainly bring harsh results. Hopefully you can avoid a judgment by settling with the creditor. I really wish I had better news for you, and I truly wish you good luck. Have I answered all of your questions? If so, then please remember to accept my post. Thank you.
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