How To Handle Your Credit Card Debt Case in Florida
Being sued for any reason is something no one wants. When a lawsuit is brought against you for something that you cannot control at the moment, it only seems to make the experience that much worse. Credit card debt is a perfect example of this. If you fail to pay on your credit card debt in Florida, the creditor can take legal action against you to attempt to recover the money they are owed.
If you find yourself at the receiving end of a lawsuit from a creditor looking for repayment, you have options. It’s important to seek the appropriate guidance from a knowledgeable debt defense attorney. The team at Kelley, Fulton & Kaplan understands the ins and outs of these cases and can help you figure out the right solution for you.
Understand how to proceed
In Florida, a credit card company may choose not to file a lawsuit against you right when you default on your account with them. It can take anywhere from six months to a few years before they seek legal action. Once they do, it’s important to respond in a timely manner and proceed in the appropriate way.
After you are served with notice that a creditor is suing you for repayment, you are usually given 30 days to respond to the order. Failing to respond timely and correctly can result in a default judgement, in which the court can rule in favor of the creditor and greatly diminish your ability to defend your case. At this time, the court can also approve the creditor’s request to garnish your wages or bank accounts until the debt is paid.
If you choose to hire a lawyer to represent you, they will advise you on how to properly proceed with your case. First, you should verify the debt you allegedly owe. Many companies sell debt to other collectors, who then seek legal action to recover the debt owed. In many of these cases, other penalties and fees that you are not aware of can cause the debt to increase. It’s a good idea to request documentation from the collector’s attorney that proves what you owe, and this can reveal any mistakes or fraud that may be occurring.
Each case is different, and your debt attorney can help you figure out the best plan of action for your situation.
Know your options
After you’ve verified the debt, it’s important to understand the options you have for resolving the case and moving on with your life. These options include:
- Paying the amount you owe. This is the most obvious option for anyone, but chances are many can’t afford it. Paying the full amount owed does resolve the case and deems the lawsuit unnecessary, though. It also shows on your credit report as a paid account, but doesn’t forego any missed payments that you may have incurred to that point.
- Fighting the lawsuit. Depending on how much you owe, it may make sense to fight the lawsuit. If you choose this route, it’s important to find a capable attorney to guide you through the proceedings, and help you understand your options. An aggressive defense may facilitate a settlement.
- Requesting a settlement. In some cases, you can contact the creditor and ask for a settlement before moving forward with a lawsuit. This can mean that you must pay the full amount or the creditor could agree to a lower sum. Requesting a settlement could also give you an opportunity to pay off your debt in installments instead of a one-time payment, but defaulting on any settlement agreement will only result in the creditor moving forward with their case against you. Settlement negotiations can be touchy, and are greatly facilitated by and experienced attorney.
- Creating a debt management plan. Much like a settlement, a debt management plan allows you to pay off your debt to avoid a lawsuit. By seeking the assistance of a credit counselor, you can create an affordable plan to pay the creditor through a third-party entity, but the creditor must agree to the terms and then withdraw the lawsuit to allow you the opportunity to pay them back.
- Declaring bankruptcy. Bankruptcy is considered by most to be a last resort option, but in cases of extremely high credit card debt, it could be the perfect solution. If you’re considering filing for bankruptcy, talk to a debt attorney about the process and possible consequences to make sure it’s what you want to do. Keep in mind that a bankruptcy stays on your credit report for up to 10 years. The attorneys at Kelley, Fulton & Kaplan are very experienced in both bankruptcy and debt defense.
Find the right attorney
Representing yourself may sound like the easier, more affordable option when a lawsuit is filed against you, but seeking the appropriate guidance from an experienced debt attorney can help you get out of this legal mess with the least amount of harm done. It’s always wise to consider all of your options, and consult a professional experienced in that area of law and debt resolution.
The West Palm Beach credit card debt attorneys at Kelley, Fulton & Kaplan helps clients understand what they’re up against and how to proceed with their case. Contact us today for help.