Two Ways to Set Aside a Default Judgment in Alabama

How to set aside a default judgmentIf you’ve received a default judgment in your collection lawsuit, you may wonder, “Is there any way I can get rid of this?”

Here are two ways that a default judgment can be set aside in Alabama.

1.) Ask the judge to set aside the judgment within the time limit we’re given.

If we were served in Small Claims or District Court, then we have 14 days to ask the court to set aside the judgment.

If we were served in Circuit Court, then we have 30 days.

Now, there are some requirements for this.

We have to tell the court why we didn’t answer the lawsuit, and we have to prove we have a “colorable,” or legitimate defense for our case.

However, if we miss our deadline, then none of this matters.

2.) If we’re beyond those time limits, then the only other way to set aside a default judgment is to prove that you weren’t properly served in the first place.

To be served properly in a lawsuit is for a sheriff’s deputy to hand you the complaint.  Or to have it sent by certified mail that you sign for.  Or the lawsuit is left with an adult living in your home.

If this wasn’t the case, then that is evidence that the judgment should go away.  But we need to prove we weren’t served.

We can do that with documentation that we weren’t in the place where we were supposedly were served.  Here are some examples from past cases where we have set aside default judgments where our clients weren’t served:

  • In ICU on the date supposedly served at our house
  • Proof from Alabama Power and our lease that we had moved from a house three years before we were supposedly served at our old house
  • Paystubs and gas receipts showing we were in another city at the time it was claimed we were served in Birmingham
  • Plane tickets showing we were on vacation out of the state
  • Physical description says “White female 130 pounds 5’8″ and 30 years old” and actually our client is 5’2″ black female in her 60s — obviously they served the wrong person

So a key is to get from the court the document that shows how you were supposedly served.  Some have a lot of information and some have very little.  But get what you can and we can help you do this.

If you have a default judgment against you, be mindful of your time.

Respond within the time limit that’s given to you.

Remember, you have 14 days in Small Claims or District Court, and 30 days in Circuit Court.

If you’re outside of the deadline, make sure you were properly served.

Final caution — you get one shot at this.  So make sure you have your legal arguments right and your evidence in a proper form.  We have folks come to us after doing this incorrectly on their own but the judge has already ruled.  In those cases, it normally is too late to do anything about it.

Contact Us.

If you have any questions and you live in the state of Alabama, feel free to give us a call at 1-205-879-2447.

You can also fill out a contact form and we will get in touch with you as soon as possible.

I look forward to talking with you!

Have a great day.

-John G. Watts

Leave a Comment