What is a Judgment (civil) (money)
A court judgment is a ruling by a court. If you've been sued (served with a summons) and you lost or didn't show up then a judgment was entered against you. A judgment will go on your credit reports just like a tax lien or repossession.
You cannot be put in jail for not paying a small claims money judgment, however it is renewable and can follow you around forever as well as impacting your credit. Lots of employers and landlords will not rent to someone who has a court judgment against them.
Can you appeal a Judgment
You can appeal the court judgment if you have reason to believe it was in error. Once the judgment is entered you usually have 30 days to appeal it but court rules vary state to state.
To appeal the judgment you can speak with the clerk of the court to find out the proper appeal procedure and to complete a Notice of Appeal. The fees vary from court to court but it's around $100.00.
Who is a Judgment Creditor
The judgment creditor (JC) is the entity that sued you whether it's a landlord, credit card company or collection agency. Usually attorneys acting as debt collectors represent the original creditor and file the lawsuit on their behalf. Once they obtain a court judgment against you they can levy your bank accounts or garnish your wages. This is often referred to as a "money judgment'
Can you negotiate a Judgment
The judgment creditor wants to be paid pure and simple. If garnishing your wages or levying your bank account has proven too difficult for the JC to collect, he most likely will be in a position to negotiate with you. If you agree to settle the court judgment for less, be sure to get the agreement in writing -- not verbal as it does not protect your rights.
Can you vacate a Judgment
If you feel the court judgment was entered in error or you were not properly served you can file a motion to vacate the judgment with the courts. The clerk of the court will give you a form to fill out and usually this should be done within 180 days of the judgment being entered.