What Are The Basic Procedures For Challenging A Wage Garnishment?
In terms of challenging the lawsuit, the old adage, “a stitch in time, saves nine,” is appropriate. The earlier you address the issue, the less time and effort it’s going to take to resolve it. Certainly, if you present an answer within the 20 days from the date that you received the summons and complaint, it’s going to be, at a certain level, easier to challenge the plaintiff’s claims. It will also be less work than if you attempted to vacate a judgment after the default judgment is entered. At that point, when you are making a motion to vacate the judgment, you not only have to present the defenses that you would have presented when you answered the lawsuit, but you also have this extra layer of arguments to convince the judge that any neglect you had in not responding to the lawsuit in the 20 day time period was excusable neglect.
You have to tell the judge, “I didn’t just sit on my hands or am simply ignorant of the law. There was a good reason why I didn’t meet that 20 day deadline.” Perhaps you were improperly served, or you were away from your mailbox for a period of time or were taking care of a sick relative. This should be something for which the judge would be comfortable actually vacating the judgment and saying, “Hey, the judgment that was entered prior was on false grounds, and so we are going to re-litigate this issue.” It’s a lot more time and effort at that stage of the lawsuit than if you simply had presented those defenses within that 20 day timeline.
What Is Vacating A Court Judgment When It Refers To Wage Garnishment?
Vacating a judgment is making a motion with the court, after the judgment is entered, to ask the judge to reconsider the grounds on which the judgment was entered. Oftentimes there are default judgments out there so what you are saying is not only do I have defenses to the substance of the allegations that the plaintiff has made and I have a significant chance of prevailing if we litigate the underlying issue, but also, any neglect I had in not answering the lawsuit in the first 20 days in which I was served is excusable because of X, Y or Z.
It’s a very difficult thing to do at that stage of the lawsuit because judges want to have some finality to the process, so they put a premium on people exercising their rights under the rules; so while the motion to vacate the judgment is an option, it’s a difficult standard to meet. This is because not only do you have to convince the judge that you have a very plausible chance of winning this case, but the fact that you didn’t respond in the time you were supposed to is excusable because one of these things applies. Ignorance of the law is simply not a defense.
So there’s no excuse if you tell the judge, “I didn’t realize that I only had 20 days,” because right on the summons you were served, it says you have 20 days to answer this lawsuit. It’s not uncommon for people to say, “Well, I looked at it, but I just assumed that I would get something from the courts, and there would be this hearing date, and I would have my day in court when I’d be able to go in and explain to the judge what’s going on.”
Unfortunately, in Minnesota, to start the lawsuit, nothing has to be filed with the court. Nothing really gets filed with the court by the plaintiff, at least in most of these debt cases, until after that 20 day timeline has already passed. The rules of the game are set up to take advantage of the garnishee in that way. So a lot of people just assume that they are going to have their day in court. Sadly, if you don’t respond within 20 days, there is a presumption that you are not presenting any defense because you don’t have a plausible defense to present.
So the default judgment is entered against you, so you have that much of a steeper climb if you try to present those defenses after the judgment is entered. Vacating a judgment is a little bit of a “Hail Mary” attempt for a lot of people at that point, and that’s why many times, depending on what the circumstances are for people, it makes a lot of sense to look at your bankruptcy options because bankruptcy can be a more efficient and cost-effective means of resolving not only that particular judgment but also all the other debts that you have that you may be struggling with at that time.
For more information on Challenging A Wage Garnishment, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (763) 568-7343 today.
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