Many people think they can go to jail (debtor’s prison) for not paying their debts. This is not true.
It is your right to ignore a lawsuit, if you want to – up to a certain point. I don’t think that is a very good strategy, but it is your right.
If for whatever reason you don’t want to fight a lawsuit against you, it can be ignored. But a judgment will likely be entered against you.
Some people feel that since their creditors have nothing to take from them (maybe they are unemployed, their assets are exempt, etc.), then there is nothing a creditor can do to them in the lawsuit. This can lead to problems as well.
First, if you are working, a creditor may be able to garnish your wages. And once a garnishment hits, it can put a stranglehold on your finances and ability to make necessary payments – like your car or mortgage.
Second, if a creditor gets a judgment against you, and you ignore it, you could end up in jail.
Yes, an extreme result. Please see a Wall Street Journal article on the topic.
And I know what you are saying: But there is no debtor’s prison in Florida!
This is true. You cannot be thrown into jail or prison for not paying your debts.
But you CAN be thrown into jail for ignoring a court order. This is how some creditors get around not having debtor’s prison.
Once the creditor gets a judgment against someone, they are entitled to get certain information from the debtor. This is usually in the form of a Fact Information Sheet. As a judgment debtor, you will have to let the creditor know about your assets, wages, bank accounts, as well as other information.
If you don’t provide this information to the creditor, then they may ask the judge to hold you in contempt of court – for failure to abide by the court’s order. This is how someone ends up in jail.
While a contempt order is not very common, it shows you the peril of simply ignoring a lawsuit – which is almost always the worst course of action one could take. Burying your head in the sand, or running from the problem, usually will make the problem worse and more costly to fix later.
If you are served with any lawsuit, the first thing you should do is consult with me as to your options. Get your options early, make a decision, and follow through.
Call 407-749-0080 for a free consultation to see how I may be able to help you.