1. Fill out 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. File your forms with the clerk
Now that you have filled out your forms, you need to file them with the clerk. The method you are required to use depends on the county where you are filing.
- E-filing: Most counties require you to file your forms and documents electronically. See E-Filing Basics for more information.
- Paper filing: If your county allows paper filing, or you have an E-filing Exemption Certificate, take your completed forms to the circuit court clerk's office in the courthouse. See courthouse locations. The clerk will stamp your forms. This stamp is important because it's proof that you filed the form with the court. They will give you a copy for your records.
4. Appear in court on your motion date
Go to court at the time and date given to you. Bring a copy of your forms.
Follow these suggestions when going to court:
- Get to the courthouse at least 30 minutes before your hearing time;
- Go to the courtroom listed on your court forms. If your forms do not have a courtroom number, look for a list of cases at the courthouse or ask the circuit clerk;
- Check-in quietly with the courtroom staff;
- Wait for your name and case number to be called;
- When your case is called, walk up to the judge and introduce yourself;
- Explain briefly what you want out of the case;
- After listening to you and to the other side, the judge will let you know what happens next.
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 motion is granted
If the judge decides to vacate the default judgment, the judge will issue an Order to Vacate the Default Judgment.
If so, the judgment against you is removed, and the lawsuit continues. But the case does not go away. You will still need to participate in the case.
Updated: June 2018