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|What Can Happen If Someone Gets a Judgment Against You||
Last updated: August 2010
A judgment is simply a judge's order that an individual (generally the "defendant" in a lawsuit) owes another individual (the "plaintiff" in a lawsuit) a sum of money. A valid judgment can be entered by a judge only after:
Many myths exist about the significance of a judgment being entered against a defendant. In reality, if a judgment is entered against you, the following can happen:
If you do not have wages, a bank account, or own a house, the judgment has little significance. The plaintiff cannot touch your public benefits (e.g. Welfare, Social Security, and Unemployment Compensation) and you will not be sent to jail or prison.
If a judgment is entered against you it is helpful to you, if possible, to arrange to pay off the judgment in installments. If the plaintiff agrees to a payment plan, and you make the payments on time, the plaintiff will not have to use the garnishment proceedings and you will not have the additional costs of a garnishment. When the judge enters the judgment against you, ask the judge if you can pay it off in installments. If you are being sued for $10,000 or less, Supreme Court Rule 288 allows the judge to order installment payments. If the judge orders installment payments, the plaintiff cannot use the garnishment procedures as long as you are current with your payments. Once you pay a judgment in full it is important to obtain a Release and Satisfaction of Judgment from the plaintiff, which you should then file with the court.
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