Can I Set Aside a Default Judgment?

March 22, 2016 - Categories: Legal Articles

Can I Set Aside a Default JudgmentHopefully you have read our prior blog discussing how to avoid having a default judgment entered against you. However, if a judgment has already been entered against you, it may still be possible to have it vacated.

Unless the court that entered the judgment against you lacked personal jurisdiction over you, the court will need to see good cause and a meritorious defense to set aside a judgment. You must also submit evidence of both fairly quickly in order to have the judgment set aside.

Good cause is typically shown by proving there was a substantial irregularity or flaw in the proceeding upon which the default judgment is based, or you have a reasonable excuse for failing to comply with the requirements that created the default. An example of a defect in the proceeding is the failure to properly serve you with notice of the lawsuit.

A reasonable excuse for failure to appear in the lawsuit is a justification for your failure to respond in the lawsuit. For example, you were in the hospital and unable to appear in the lawsuit. Claiming you did not understand that you needed to file an answer is not a reasonable excuse.

The court can consider numerous factors in determining whether good cause exists, such as:

  • Whether there was defective service of process
  • The amount of time between the entry of the judgment and the date the motion to set it aside was filed
  • Whether the failure to respond in the lawsuit was intentional or not
  • The circumstances behind the failure to timely file or respond
  • The amount of the judgment

A meritorious defense is a valid reason why the judgment against you is improper or why you do not owe the money. For example, if the debt is so old that the statute of limitations has run on the debt and it is no longer collectible.

Access Legal Care, PLLC, is a Michigan law firm headquartered in S.E. Michigan, but we work with local lawyers throughout Michigan to serve clients in every Michigan County. We provide all Michiganians with affordable legal advice and legal services related to many common Michigan-law and some Federal-law matters. Our legal fees are typically 40-60% less than the average Michigan attorney hourly fee. Call us today at 855.583.6521.