When you can’t pay your debts in New York, your creditors are allowed to take legal action against you. In fact, they can file a lawsuit and seize some of your non-exempt property. The purpose of doing this is to recoup some of their losses. However, most people who aren’t paying their debts aren’t doing so because they want to be difficult. Most have fallen behind or suffered some type of setback and are unable to pay back their debts. Taking away non-exempt property isn’t exactly fair, and no one understands this better than The Law Office of William Waldner

Understanding Default Judgments in New York

If you’ve been surprised by a default judgment, you’re probably experiencing a range of emotions, ranging from anger to disappointment to worry. These judgments typically swing in favor of the plaintiff-creditor.

So what are default judgments, exactly? These judgments happen when you don’t respond to a lawsuit, often from a debt collector. The judge doesn’t hear your side of the story because you never entered a defense. So, you are essentially found guilty. 

Default judgments may also be referred to as automatic judgments because of how fast they happen. Very quickly, your creditors have the potential to garnish your wages or levy your bank account. If you’re already struggling to pay your bills, having someone take money directly out of your bank account is a huge concern. This is why you should speak with a legal professional right away. 

How to Handle a Default Judgment 

Dealing with a default judgment isn’t easy, but it’s important to know that you have rights as a consumer. Here are the steps to take if you get a notice of a default judgment:

Gather information. 

Debt collection efforts don’t happen overnight. They typically occur over many months or years. The debt can be sold and resold as well, further complicating matters. What you want to do is gather information so that you can verify that what you owe is the correct amount. Collect all bills from the original creditor, notices from the debt collector and any other court documents you have received.  

Speak with a lawyer. 

The next step is to get in touch with a legal professional. A little advice goes a long way in determining the next best steps. A lawyer will also make sure the judgment is correct, and if so, what your options are. If your judgment is incorrect, as they sometimes are, your attorney will work with you to challenge it. 

Decide which action to follow. 

With this information, your attorney can help you decide what action to follow. Should you accept the judgment? Settle the judgment for less? Challenge it? There is also the option to pursue debt relief, which is recommended for those who cannot afford to pay their judgment. In many cases, default judgments can be discharged through bankruptcy, relieving you of this financial burden. 

While it’s not ideal to receive a notice of a default judgment, there are opportunities to take back control of your financial future.

Step 1: Rebuilding Your Credit Post-Judgment

A default judgment may have lowered your credit score, but it’s far from game over. There are still avenues open to you that will help rebuild your credit rating.

Paying other debts on time is one such way. Whether it’s personal loans or unpaid credit card debt, timely payments reflect positively on your report. Maintaining low balances on current credit accounts can be beneficial, as it lowers the debt-to-income ratio, something creditors may consider when granting new lines of credit.

Step 2: Preventing Future Judgments

To steer clear of any more judgments landing at your doorstep, adopting solid financial management practices early on is key. This isn’t just about earning more than what goes out; this is about being financially responsible across all aspects of life. If you’re not sure how to manage your budget effectively, consider taking a personal finance course. These courses discuss saving, budgeting and more. 


Filing for bankruptcy will discharge many debts, including debts owed to creditors. However, keep in mind that once a judgment has been filed and a lien is placed on the property, the lien will stay, even with bankruptcy. This is why it’s best to deal with judgments before they are attached to your property. To learn more about this, schedule a free consultation with The Law Office of Waldner.