1. Prepare your forms
Fill out the Motion to Vacate a Default Judgment program. It will help you create all the forms you need, including the following:
In your written motion, you should ask the judge to vacate the judgment.
If you are filing the motion within 30 days of learning of the default judgment, you should say so. Include weekends and holidays when counting. If the 30th day lands on a weekend or holiday, the deadline is the next weekday. If you file the motion more than 30 days after learning of the judgment, the judge will probably not grant the motion.
You may also want to explain why you missed your original court date or failed to enter a plea, especially if you have a good reason.
Review the forms to make sure they are correct and then sign them.
The original signed Motion to Vacate a Default Judgment and Notice of Motion will be given to the court when you file them. Then make:
- One copy of the Motion to Vacate a Default Judgment and the Notice of Motion for your records
- One copy for each person you are mailing it to. Usually, this is just the plaintiff or the plaintiff's lawyer;
- One copy of the Proof of Service for each person you are mailing it to.
Keep the Order to give to the judge if your motion is granted.
2. Get your court cost waived
If the clerk asks you for a fee, you must pay it unless you are allowed to file your court papers for free.
3. Take forms to the clerk
In order to file your motion, you need to take all of your completed forms to the clerk's office in the courthouse where the case was filed.
A Motion is used when you need the judge to decide something. A Notice of Motion lets the other party know you're asking the judge for a decision. Once you have filled out your forms take the following actions:
4. Set a date for a judge to hear your motion
Say to the clerk, "I want to vacate a default judgment. When is your next motion date?" The clerk might direct you to another clerk called the Motion Clerk who can tell you the date and time of the next motion date, which you write on the all copies of the Notice of Motion form.
Give the original copy of the Motion to Vacate Default Judgment and the Notice of motion to the clerk to file. Have the other copies of the motion and notice of motion stamped.
5. Fill out proof of service forms
When you're ready to mail or deliver the Motion and Notice of Motion, sign and date the Proof of Service form. Make one copy of the signed Proof of Service form for your records. Bring the Proof of Service form with you to court. This form shows when and how you sent the motion and notice of motion to the other side. If you don't have it, the judge may not let you present your case.
6. Mail your forms
After you have filed your Motion to Vacate a Default Judgment, mail a stamped copy of the following documents to the attorney for the plaintiff. If there is no attorney, mail it to the person who signed the complaint at the address on the complaint.
7. Appear in court on your motion date
Appear in court at the time and date given to you. Tell the judge you want to "Vacate a Default Judgment," which was entered against you.
The judge will probably give you a date to return in the future.
Note: If the judge wants you to have a trial immediately, and you do not want an immediate trial, ask the judge for a “continuance.” A continuance is a grant from the judge to set the court date for a later day, instead of having the trial that day.
For more information on filing a continuance, see Changing a court date.
If the judge decides to vacate the default judgment, the judge will issue an Order to Vacate the Default Judgment. Bring your Order form with you for the judge to fill out.
Motion is granted
If the judge grants your motion, the judgment against you is removed, and the lawsuit continues. The granting of the motion does not make the case go away. You will still need to participate in suit proceedings, such as filing an appearance and answer, appearing in court, or even settling your case as necessary.
Failure to participate in your motion to vacate default judgment was granted could result in a default judgment being entered against you for the second time. If a default judgment is reentered after your original motion to vacate default judgment was granted, the court likely will not look favorably upon a second request to vacate a default judgment.
Updated: January 2018