A Check List of Steps For Filing an Order to Show Cause to Vacate a Default Judgment

By: Robert J. Nahoum


A man in suit and tie with his arms crossed.

You have just discovered that a default judgment has been entered against you by a debt collector because you didn’t answer a debt collection lawsuit.  In order to reverse (or as the lawyers call it “vacateâ€) a default judgment, you need to file an “Order to Show Cause†with the court.

Here is a checklist of steps to take when preparing and filing your Order to Show Cause:

□   Get a Copy of the Court File:

It’s important to copy the entire contents of the court file.  In it, you should find 3 important legal papers: (1) the Summons and Complaint – these are the documents that started the lawsuit against you and where the plaintiff (the debt collector who sued you) describes why you owe what they claim you owe; (2) the Affidavit of Service – this is the document which describes how you were allegedly served with a copy of the lawsuit; and (3) the default judgment – this is the document in which the court authorizes the debt collector to freeze your bank account, garnishee your wages and take other steps to get money from you.

□   Get the Order to Show Cause Forms From the Clerk:

An order to show cause is comprised of two documents, (1) the actual order to show cause, this is the paper where the court tells all the parties when to show up to court so that the judge can consider whether to vacate the default judgment; and (2) an affidavit from you.  Your affidavit must be notarized and swear to two points: (1) that you have a reasonable excuse for your default (like you were never served with the papers); and (2) that you have a defense to the case (like you don’t owe all or part of the debt or that you have never heard of the plaintiff).

□   File the Order to Show Cause With the Court:

After completing the order to show cause and the affidavit, make a few copies and file the original with the pro se clerk at the courthouse.

□   Serve the Order to Show Cause:

You must deliver the papers to the attorney for the debt collector.  The order to show cause will tell you how to do this.  More often than not, you mail the papers by certified mail, return receipt requested.  Keep copies of all the receipts and papers you get at the post office so when you go to court you can prove than you complied with the service requirements.

□   Go to Court on the Return Date:

Go to Court on the date and time ordered in the order to show cause.  Bring with you whatever proof you have to show that you have a defense and an excuse for your default.  For example, if you previously paid the debt, bring a copy of the check.  Similarly, if you were not living at the place the debt collector claims to have served you with copies of the summons and complaint, bring an old bill that shows a different address for that period of time.

Beware, after the default judgment is vacated, that debt collector is still going to try and collect the debt.  Hiring a qualified and competent consumer attorney can help to make certain that that the debt collector is not taking advantage of you.

If you need help settling or defending a debt collection law suit, stopping harassing debt collectors or suing a debt collector, contact us today to see what we can do for you.

The Law Offices of Robert J. Nahoum, P.C
(845) 232-0202