I’ve been sued, what do I do?

For many people, this phrase is completely foreign. But, for those in debt, this phrase strikes fear into the heart of a family. There are several things that people in Texas should know about being sued.

1. Being sued is the first step in the process of a creditor using the legal system to collect a debt. This means that they have given up trying to “talk” you into paying them and decided to resort to the mechanisms available under the law. Those mechanisms can include garnishment, seizure, levy and execution. But, everything has to be done in the proper order and everything takes time to accomplish.

2. You cannot ignore the court system. Judges do not look like tough guys, but the Sheriffs and Constables who carry out their orders are tough guys and they won’t take no for an answer. It is actually possible to wind up in jail for failing to obey a turnover order, even though it is not possible to end up in jail for failure to pay an ordinary debt that is not a domestic support order. This means that you must sit up aand pay attention when you get sued. Things can happen that go way beyond just getting a rude call during the evening.

3. Bankruptcy stops all litigated collection actions cold. When you file a Bankruptcy case, unless you belong to that very small class of repeat filers who get no automatic protection, the law provides for an immediate and automatic stay, or restraining order, that will stop lawsuits against you immediately. The order covers the creditor suing you, their lawyers, secretaries, Judges, Clerks of Court, Sheriffs and Constables.

4. An ignored lawsuit can wind up converting a wholly unsecured, completely dischargeable, claim into a fully secured, maybe even non-dischargeable judgment against you. It is important that you never ignore a lawsuit; the problem will get worse not better.

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