“Why did the collection lawyer send me a ‘consent judgment’ and what does it mean?”

“Why did the collection lawyer send me a ‘consent judgment’ and what does it mean?”

"Why did the collection lawyer send me a 'consent judgment' and what does it mean?"You have been sued by a debt buyer/debt collector and you have received your letter from the supposed mediation firm of Ferry & Nichols.

Here’s a hint:  they are a great way to lose your money and get a default judgment.

So, you decide to reach out to the collection law firm who sued you.

You have some discussions with a collector over at the firm.

(Collection law firms are collection agencies owned by lawyers.)

They say they will work it out with you.

Usually, the plan is that you pay the amount due over 3 years at $250 a month and “you won’t even have to go to court.”

You think, “This sounds good — glad to work it out.”

But then the collection agent says “Now we just have a formality of a ‘Consent Judgment’ we need to send you and all you have to do is sign it and send it back.  We’ll even give you a self addressed envelope already stamped to make it easy on you.”

“Well, what in the world is a consent judgment?”

It is what the name suggests.

It is a judgment.

Not a fake one.  Not a kind of real judgment.

It is a real, actual, legitimate judgment.

And it is one you agreed to — you “consented” to it.

“Why does the debt collector want a consent judgment against me if we agreed to terms to settle the case?”

Here are the reasons:

  • This will go on your credit report, destroying your credit.  This makes it more likely you will go back to the collection lawyer to offer to pay off the whole amount now to ease up the harm of the judgment.
  • If you ever miss a payment, the judgment will be executed which means your wages will be garnished, your bank accounts garnished, and even your property can be sold or a lien placed on it.

I don’t think the second reason is completely unfair as if you break the settlement agreement, you have to know there are bad consequences that will come to you.

But the first is the deal breaker in all but the most unusual circumstances.

Here’s why.

A consent judgment is a real judgment and this will haunt you for many years.

The collection personnel at a collection lawfirm will minimize the importance of this but a consent judgment is a real judgment.

It goes on your credit report.

It is listed in the courthouse.

When you apply for certain types of credit or other business transactions you may be asked “Have you ever had a judgment entered against you” and now you will have to say “Yes” to this question.

And sometimes the debt collector who gets a consent judgment will simply execute on it even if you are making your payments as agreed.  This is wrong and normally we can hammer the debt collector for lying to you as they will say when settling with you “As long as you pay us $250 a month we won’t executed on this technicality of a consent judgment.”

But then they do anyway.

If at all possible, avoid having a judgment.  Instead, either fight the case or settle the case.

If you are making payments, almost every judge will allow the case to be put on an “administrative docket” so it is still around but you can make your payments over time.

If you have questions about an Alabama collection lawsuit against you, feel free to contact us.

You can reach us by phone at 1-205-879-2447.

Ask to speak to Carolyn and she will get your information,

Then, she will  set up a meeting or call with me (John Watts) so we can go over your options.

Remember it is much easier to prevent a bad decision than to fix one so call us (or someone else) before you agree to a consent judgment.

You can also reach us through our online contact form.

Make sure and tell us who sued you and in what county, the case number, and when you were served.

We look forward to helping you any way that we can.

Thanks for reading, and have a great day!

-John G. Watts


  1. Nicole says:

    Well, I wished I had seen this before I checked “I admit everything in the Statement of Claim and do not want a trial. (This means that you consent to a judgment for the amount claimed plus court costs.”
    It was done through Small Claims court by MIDLAND FUNDING C/0 HOLLOWAY & MOXLEY. The complaint read “Midland is the successor in interest to CHASE BANK USA, N.A., hereinafter “Assignor”, and was assigned all right, title and interest in the account and its records for the below identified
    account which records have been incorporated into the business records of Midland.”
    It listed : “COUNT ONE- BREACH OF CONTRACT” and “COUNT TWO-ACCOUNT STATED” and was for “$1,298.08 which is the principal balance due on the account.”
    The even sadder part is I had already paid $612 to Creditors Interchange / Equable Ascent Financial for this very same Chase Bank account. I started in 2011. The agreement was 1 $150 payment and 7 payments of $77. I had them auto-deducted. This was back when in my “bad years” where I was not focused on finances.
    I recently have been scrambling to find all I can to straighten out my credit and money and found that Equable Ascent Financial had taken out all the payments except the very last one. No idea why or what happened. & Now I have paid the consent judgement off. I made payments and paid more than minimum each time. I made my final payment May 25, over a week ago, and have not received anything in mail, email, nothing. I went online to where I paid it, through the lawyer website and now it says “Account is not eligible for online payment.”
    There is no way to have the judgement removed from my credit report bow that it is paid, is there?

    • John Watts says:


      Short answer is there is no way to have the judgment removed UNLESS it is reporting inaccurately.

      Here are some suggestions….

      **Call the lawfirm and ask them if you are done.

      **If you are, then they need to file a satisfaction of judgment to show that the judgment has been paid off (satisfied).

      **Once you have that satisfaction of judgment that the lawfirm files in your case, then you can take that and dispute the balance on the judgment showing up on your credit report. It normally will show the entire amount owed which is not true if you have fully paid it off.

      **Be glad to help you dispute the judgment amount on your credit report.

      Normally it gets fixed but if it doesn’t then we sue the credit reporting agencies and our non negotiable settlement includes deleting the judgment. The credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) hate this but too bad. If they break the law and we sue them in federal court, and if they want to settle, then they have to follow our rules.

      Sorry you are dealing with all of this — maybe not much consolation but now you know. So if you are even in this position again or your family or friends are dealing with debt collectors, you know now to sit down with a lawyer to understand your options. Lots of moving parts in these situations and we are always happy to help you (or anyone else) think through your options.

      Give us a call at 205-879-2447 and let Carolyn know you have an issue with a judgment on your credit report and that we have traded comments on this website.

      Be glad to help and thanks for your question.

      John Watts

  2. Bessie Davis says:

    I was sued by US Bank an affiliate of greentree financial for 40,000 dollars. My attorney advised me to sign a consent judgment ft or 25,000 and I did but I am not happy with my decision. Is there any way I can overturn this?

    • John Watts says:


      In Alabama if you agreed to the consent judgment I don’t know of anyway to undo it — once it is entered it is a judgment. My suggestion is get with your lawyer ASAP and see what options you have.

      Best wishes….

      John Watts

  3. Charles says:

    I received summons for my outstanding rates R2,399.00. I have the money to pay it off before the 10 days I was given to sign a consent of judgement or notice to defend.
    How should I handle this case. What document to file with the court stating that I have paid my debt without signing a consent of judgement.

    • John Watts says:


      Thanks for your question — very wise to want to avoid a judgment of any type.

      If you are in Alabama and you want to settle it, call the lawyer who sued you to get the details on who to pay and how to pay (certified check, etc). I would still file an answer so there is no chance for a default judgment.

      But if you are in another state, I simply don’t know the court rules. I would always suggest responding to the lawsuit before the deadline and getting with a lawyer in your state.

      In Alabama you could send a letter to the court (file it with the clerk of the court) stating that you have paid off the amount sued for or the amount that you agreed to with the collection lawfirm.

      Best wishes….and thank you for your question.


  4. Carter Wayne says:

    What happens if the Judgment is valid, but the initial debt violated state and federal loan sharking laws. The consent judgement was for a debt they were charging over 79% interest. This is not short term loan, but a credit card. It was also not secured. I found out a couple days after signing that the consent judgement that a judge ruled in federal district court that loans sold to a collection agency no longer have the federal bank protections that allow them to make illegal loans.

    • John Watts says:


      Great question.

      Here are some thoughts for you — a lot depends on what court you are in, the circumstances, etc.

      First, when you do a consent judgment it is hard to “undo” it — the theory being that you agreed to it so you should not be allowed to complain about it now. The sooner you can ask that it be undone, the better. A judge is much more likely to undo it a week after compared to three years after.

      Second, did the judge say the loans were void? Or that since the debt buyer is not a national bank, the state “usury” laws (limits on interest rate) apply? Was it just one federal district judge or multiple? In your state or somewhere else? Has that decision been appealed? Lots of factors. I assume the consent judgment was in state court. They don’t have to follow a federal court decision but often they do. You’ll just need to know if there are conflicting federal decisions or are all the federal judges united on this.

      Third, have you been paying on it? Have you asked the debt collector/debt buyer if they will reduce the interest rate and amount of interest to be consistent with what the federal judge said? If they do, then that might be the same as if they never asked for the extra interest. (You would want the judgment modified so credit reports are accurate). If not, then that may help you to attack the judgment.

      Bottom line is get with a consumer protection lawyer in your state to help you understand the rules in your state, and your particular judge, so you can determine the best move for you.

      Hope the above helps and that you can get the judgment undone or at least reduce the amount they say you owe….

      John Watts

  5. Amiri says:

    I was sent a consent judgement for a lease on furniture from the company that leased it. Should I sign it?

    • John Watts says:


      You have to make that decision. In Alabama, I think there are a lot of negative consequences to agreeing to a consent judgment. It does not mean they are evil or absolutely wrong but you need to evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of agreeing to one.

      Here are some thoughts for you:

      1. Can you win the case at trial?

      2. If you are likely to lose, then you will have a judgment anyway against you.

      3. How bad would the collection be on a judgment — do you have wages to garnish, property to seize, bank accounts to wipe out in garnishment, etc? With a consent judgment, the other side will normally agree not to take any collection action against you as long as you make the agreed-upon payments.

      4. You have to assume a consent judgment will be on your credit report. Even if you make all payments, you still have to deal with the consequences of a judgment. Do you want to do this?

      5. Can you settle without a consent judgment? Maybe pay a lump sum? Sometimes companies just routinely ask for these but if you explain you do not want your credit report messed up (and the company suing has no control over judgments being credit reported) then they may understand. We normally enter into an agreement where if we miss a payment, they can get a judgment against us. But if we make all the payments, then no need for a judgment.

      Certainly if you have a lawyer, get with your lawyer but I’m assuming you are handling this on your own. If so, then consider the costs and benefits and you make the best decision for you.

      I do not agree to consent judgments but there are other lawyers who do.

      I wish you the best in figuring out the best move for you to make in this case!

      John Watts

  6. Greg Partlow says:

    Thank you Mr. Watts, I sure wish you practiced law in Missouri. Your video’s have really helped me. Greg

  7. Alton Hill says:

    I was sued by Motormax Financial Services Corp. The loan was taken out in 2012.I spoke to a representative and asked them to give me the date my last payment was made but they refused.I admitted to the debt in Small claims Court. I’m wondering if I can get them charged with malicious prosecution since they are clearly taking action against me after the statute of limitations has run out.

    • John Watts says:


      Normally if you admit to the debt there will be a judgment entered against you.

      On statute of limitations, you as the defendant have to prove it — they don’t have to disprove it.

      Its the concept of an affirmative defense — you say “I should win because I can prove XXXX”.

      So you would need to show the date of last payment, etc.

      Normally the statute of limitations starts to run on the first missed payment and can be restarted at any payment. So as a practical matter, you look to see when the last payment you made and then count the years.

      If you feel you have this defense, you may want to amend your answer to put it in there. It is box “D” where you deny owing the debt and then you list your reason.

      All the above is for Alabama — if you are in another state I have no idea how it works.

      Best wishes

      John Watts

  8. Denise smith says:

    I signed a consent judgement saying I owed the debt and we agreed to settlement over 3 mos and I got a letter saying consent judgement denied a trial will b set can u explain please

  9. Denise smith says:

    I signed a consent judgement saying I owed the debt and we agreed to settlement over 3 mos and I got a letter saying consent judgement denied a trial will b set can u explain please

  10. Mary Harris says:

    I signed a payment agreement and consent judgement. The law firm efiled the consent judgement. I received a letter that said the consent judgement was denied because I haven’t filed an answer to consent. So I sent my answer now agreeing the debt is mine. Will they refile the consent judgement or will it now be a court judgement?

    • John Watts says:

      Mary — I’ll answer based on Alabama law as I assume you are here.

      Most likely the consent judgment will be refiled and then it will become a court judgment. You’ll need to make sure you follow the rules of the consent judgment agreement you made as normally if you do that the collection lawyers won’t garnish you etc assuming that was part of the agreement.

      Best wishes


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