Building upon yesterday's blog post "Need to Vacate a Default Judgment?" this post discusses the time limits to do so.
In short, when making your motion to vacate the judgment, you have four main subsections of CPLR § 5015 to think about:
- excusable default;
- newly discovered evidence;
- fraud, misrepresentation, or other misconduct of an adverse party;
- lack of jurisdiction to render the judgment or order.
Our consumer clients usually invoke the "excusable default" and the "lack of jurisdiction" subsection. It's generally understood that all five grounds are subject to the court's discretion. You should always make a convincing case, using one or more of the above grounds, to convince a judge to use her discretion to disturb the judgment.
The first ground, excusable default, is the only subsection that contains a time limit: one year after service upon you of a copy of the judgment or order with written notice of its entry. The remaining subsections require your motion be made "within a reasonable time." Obviously, a "reasonable time" is subject to argument but I urge you make your motion as quickly as possible using as much helpful support as you can gather.
Although courts are fairly lenient to consumer debtors who have defaulted, I have seen plenty of debtors who have been denied a chance to vacate the judgment based on the length of their delay and insufficiency of their papers.
Worth noting is that CPLR § 317 provides another potential basis to vacate your default if you:
- weren't personally served;
- you make the motion within one year after knowledge of a judgment's entry but no later than five years after such entry;
- you convince the court that you did not personally receive notice of the summons in time to defend; and
- you have a meritorious defense.
Contact us if you need help getting relief from your judgment.