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CalAttorney2
CalAttorney2, Lawyer
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Satisfied Customers: 10238
Experience:  I am a civil litigation attorney representing individuals and businesses.
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Does it matter if a lawsuit is filed in my married name but

Customer Question

Does it matter if a lawsuit is filed in my married name but I changed my name prior? For example lawsuit is filed in 2012 as Joan Allen-Brown aka Joan Brown. But in 2010 I changed my name back to Joan Allen
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 1 year ago.

If there is no question that the named defendant is the same person, the defendant's best course of action is almost always going to be filing an answer (or responsive pleading) to the complaint. Taking a more aggressive strategy (ignoring the summons and complaint, allowing the plaintiff to get a "default judgment" and then contesting any enforcement effort due to improper name, is a very risky strategy (and if there is no question about the identity of the defendant it has a very low chance of success)).

What will happen if you take the more aggressive position is that unless you win your motion to vacate the judgment (have it deemed void for improperly naming the party/defendant), you will lose your opportunity to appear and defend the matter on the merits. This means you will have conceded all of the allegations in the suit, and the amount of damages (this is a lot to give up without a fight).

Most defendants will file an appearance, but note that the complaint has improperly identified their name.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Understood. So when I appear for scheduling conference I should advise the judge the lawsuit was not filed under my legal name?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Can I ask for a dismissal due to improper name?
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 1 year ago.

You can notify the court (you should do this as well in your answer to the complaint).

This isn't the basis to dismiss a case, the plaintiff will simply file an amended complaint properly stating your name.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I think I misunderstood your first response. I responded and plan to defend myself. But If the Plantiff obtains a judgement I can try to "vacate judgement" for improper name but the possibility of vacating is slim?
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 1 year ago.

No, you will want to file your appearance and defend yourself - state in your answer that you are filing an answer as the improperly named defendant (it simply alerts the court to the fact of the name issue).

If you were to ignore the complaint, and let them get a default judgment, you could try contesting it, and that is the slim possibility.