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William B. Esq.
William B. Esq., Attorney
Category: Legal
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Experience:  Civil litigation attorney for individuals and businesses.
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I got a summons for unpaid credit debit from about 6 years

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I got a summons for unpaid credit debit from about 6 years ago. I was wondering if I contact the firm handling it will they settle with me outside of court or will I have to appear and will I need a lawyer to handle it? Also, will I need to pay the entire sum or will they let me make payments?
Submitted: 10 months ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  William B. Esq. replied 10 months ago.
Dear Customer, thank you for using our service. My name is XXXXX XXXXX X would like to assist you today.

I am sorry to hear that you have been served in this matter. In Ohio, the statute of limitations for written contract (such as your credit card debt) is 8 years. This means that the civil action for collections against you is still valid, and that you will need to defend the action in order to avoid having a "default" taken against you.

You can always contact the other attorney and speak to him about settlement opportunities. There are various ways to go about negotiating a settlement, some debtors like to do so before they file an answer, others wait until after they have filed an answer to open settlement negotiations because the creditor will have lost the opportunity for an "easy" default judgment. You can ask for a lump sum payment plan (usually the easiest to settle with), or a payment plan. The creditor does not have to settle the case with you, but it is generally in their best interest to find a way to collect money in the most efficient manner possible, as opposed to simply pursuing you in litigation.

In response to the lawsuit, you will need to file an Answer to the complaint before the last day to respond passes. If you do not answer in time, the creditor will get a default judgment against you, meaning you lose the case and do not have the right to appear or defend against it. The creditor would then be able to use wage garnishment, bank levies, and property levies to collect the debt. If you appear and litigate the case, you can do so without an attorney, however if it is a substantial debt, you may wish to consider hiring one as it is usually far more helpful to be represented in these matters.

(This is for Lucas Ohio, but the information regarding litigation in the state is the same throughout): http://co.lucas.oh.us/documents/83/Juv%20Ct%20Pro%20Se%20Pamphl_1.PDF

I hope the above is helpful, if you have any questions please do not hesitate to let me know and I will follow up quickly.

Thank you for using our service, please do not forget to rate my answer when you are satisfied. I do wish you the best of luck in this matter.
Customer: replied 10 months ago.

I guess I should have added in my initial question that it is past the date I was given, the letter was sent to an old address and by the time it was forwarded to me it was too late. How should I best go from here?

Expert:  William B. Esq. replied 10 months ago.
If a default has actually already been entered against you, you can file a motion to set aside the default.

There are 2 steps to a default judgment (they can be taken together, but it is worthwhile to know the distinction when you call the Court clerk to check the status of your case, or when you go online if your case file is posted there).

Step 1: the defendant fails to answer the complaint or appear in the matter. The Plaintiff "takes the Defendant's default"

Step 2: only after the court has entered this default into the docket, can the plaintiff apply for a judgment. (A "default judgment" - which is really just the same as any other judgment in favor of the creditor).

You can move to set aside both a default, and a default judgment. To do so, make a simple motion to the court (a template can be found here: http://www.courtclerk.org/forms/setasidedefault.pdf) explain the circumstances as to why you failed to respond in time ("mistake, surprise, or excusable neglect"), and attach a copy of your proposed answer if the Court does set aside the default and allow you to appear.
William B. Esq., Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 2958
Experience: Civil litigation attorney for individuals and businesses.
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