Thinking about representing yourself in court to save money on a debt settlement attorney? Here are 12 reasons you may not want to do that, and why it may end up costing you more money in the long run:
- Your Answer
What is an Answer? What does it need to say? When is it due? Where do you need to file it? And what do you need to do with your Answer other than file it?
What is discovery? Do you need to do it? What happens if you do discovery and what happens if you don’t do discovery? Did they do discovery? And what do you need to do if they did?
- Getting Served
You got a copy of the debt settlement lawsuit in the mail. Or you found it on your front door. Or it’s been a while, and you still haven’t received it—at least not as far as you know. Have you been served? Or not? And how can you tell for sure?
- Court Date
When is your court date? Hint 1: it’s not the day your answer is due. Hint 2: the paperwork you were served with doesn’t have your court date on it anywhere. So how do you even find out when you’re supposed to go to court?
- Court Hearing
Do you need to go to the court hearing? What happens at the hearing? What do you need to take with you? What do you need to say?
Can’t I just settle this on my own? (Sure, you can.) But what’s a good settlement? And if you’re settling for nearly the full amount of the debt, would it cost you less to pay an attorney to represent you and then get a lower settlement (or win the case)? (Probably.)
- Legal Fees
Won’t I have to pay thousands of dollars to you, up front, for you to handle my case? (Nope.) Our fees are very reasonable; we have affordable payment plans and we reduce our fees for small lawsuits. You’re not stupid: you won’t pay $1500 for an attorney to help you with a $2500 lawsuit.
- Your Credit
Is the lawsuit already on your credit report? Is there any way to keep the lawsuit off of your credit report? (No and Probably.) So what do you need to do to keep the lawsuit off of your credit report and avoid having 7-10 additional years of bad credit?
What is a judgment? What can they do with a judgment? How long can a judgment stay on my credit report? What’s the difference between a default judgment, an agreed judgment, and a regular judgment?
- The Judge
Do you think the judge will “help you out” when you go to court or “help you set up a payment plan with them”? (He won’t. That’s not his job.)
It’s a hassle to try to represent yourself. You’ll spend hours trying to figure out what you need to do, hours more doing it, and you’ll never know for sure whether you did it right or not.
In some courts, the lawsuits only last a few months. In other courts, lawsuit go on for years. How do you know what’s going on? And if you haven’t heard anything for a while, does that mean the lawsuit went away? Or is it still going on? And how can you tell for sure?
And One Court Horror Story..
Horror story – person who appeared at trial, judge talked them into a reset, then gave them wrong date, then never ruled on MNT.