Debt Collection, Garnishment, Repossession Article


Stipulated Judgments

What is a stipulated judgment?

A “stipulated judgment” – which is sometimes also called a “consent judgment” – is a voluntary agreement between the parties involved in a legal dispute that operates to settle the case. First, each party specifically states – or “stipulates” – in a signed writing that they wish to be legally bound by the terms of the agreement. That agreement is then brought to a judge, who reviews it to make sure that its content is consistent with the law and is fair to both parties. Once the judge has approved the agreement, it becomes an official judgment of the court, which means that the parties must obey it.

What are the benefits of a stipulated judgment?

A stipulated judgment allows the parties to a legal dispute to settle their case without spending the time and money involved in a trial.

What are the risks of a stipulated judgment?

A stipulated judgment is legally binding – which means that once a judge has approved the agreement, both parties lose the right to take the matter to trial if they later change their minds or learn that the agreement was not what they thought it was. (There are exceptions, but this is the general rule.)

PLEASE NOTE: This is why you should never agree to a stipulated judgment – or sign any other potentially legally binding document – without first reading it over incredibly carefully. If you are at all unsure as to what the consequences of agreeing to a stipulated judgment will be, you should have an attorney review it.

When are stipulated judgments used?

Stipulated judgments are used in many different contexts. Here are just a few of them (described in very general terms):

Consumer law  (e.g., debt repayment)


A creditor to whom a consumer owes a debt may ask the consumer (the debtor) to agree to a settlement that includes a stipulated judgment.

A stipulated judgment allows the creditor to avoid the time and expense of going to court but it also ensures that the debtor will be legally bound to fulfill the repayment agreement. A stipulated judgment allows the debtor to agree to pay a lump sum or to make a monthly payment without fear that the creditor will take the debtor to court. Both sides get certainty and avoid the burdens of a trial.

The agreed-to repayment amount usually is less than what is actually owed and the stipulated judgment includes an agreement that says that if the debtor breaks the agreement (defaults), then the entirety of the original debt will be due.

Debtors should be wary of entering into any agreement that does not expressly state that the interest rate will be 0% and that the creditor may only file the stipulated judgment with the court if and when the debtor defaults. Any debtor considering settling with a creditor would be wise to seek the advice of an attorney before signing any document.

Family law  (e.g., divorce and related matters)

Divorcing spouses who are in complete agreement about the terms of their divorce – a situation that is sometimes called an “uncontested” divorce – may submit a stipulated judgment to the court rather than go to trial.

The stipulated judgment must list each of the agreements between the two parties relating to the division of property, the division of debts, spousal support, child support, child custody, parental visitation, and all other pertinent matters. It must also be signed by both parties.

Landlord-tenant law  (e.g., eviction)

Under the Arizona Rules of Procedure for Eviction Actions (17B A.R.S. Rules Proc. Evic. Act.), a court may accept a stipulated judgment in the case of an eviction if the tenant being evicted (the defendant) (1) received proper notice and was given an opportunity to pay all rent owed or fix whatever other problem resulted in a material breach of the rental agreement and (2) was properly served with the summons and complaint by the landlord as described by Rule 13(a) and consistent with the Arizona Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (A.R.S. Title 33 Chapter 10).

The document signed by the tenant being evicted (the defendant) must contain the following warning:

Read carefully! By signing below, you are consenting to the terms of a judgment against you. You may be evicted as a result of this judgment, the judgment may appear on your credit report, and you may NOT stay at the rental property, even if the amount of the judgment is paid in full, without your landlord’s express consent.

Comments:

QUESTIONS

  • Hello! Back in 2000 my vehicle was repossed, this loan showed up on my credit report until 2006.I have checked my credit report every year after that and this account is no longer showing up. Just recently I recieved a phone call from a collection agency regarding this account. Are they allowed to do this? Do they have the right to after 3 years of this account falling off my credit report to start reporting it again? Thank You
  • Is there an interest percentage cap on the collectible debt? Is the debt collector allowed to negotiate the interest portion of the debt if client is able to pay? Is the debt held by a debt collection agency good forever?
  • my husband passed away on aug.22,14,he left a hospital bill unpaid,am i liable for this bill? could a collection agency bill me? i live in az thank you
  • I foreclosed on a property in ohio, can the creditor garnish my wages if i now reside in arizona?
  • We owe a nursing care facility 10,000 dollars. I have been sending them 20.00a month. I received a letter from them with a check for the payments I made. They are refusing my payments because they are saying the payments are too low. This is all I can afford to send. Are they legally allowed to refuse these payments? Thank You
  • Can they take my federal income tax money to satisfy the debt?
  • Hello...I was served court documents about a credit card that was defaulted on. I paid my last 1000.00 to a service who was supposed to stop it I now received in The mail that they got a default judgement against me I need help
  • I am being sued/summoned from Chase through a debt collector to appear in court, they came to my home and made my 16 year old daughter sign the document, This is a 6 year old debt (they sent this account in January 1st 2008 to collection) and after this date I didn't receive any collection letters. I am afraid to face charges or fees other than owed. I need legal advice please!
  • I lost my job and now only get social security. Can credit cards garanshee my social security? Can These credit card companies take my cars, I have two old ones. Thank you
  • My husband has a child support collection that was filed against him prior to our marriage, the child support collection is with his exwife and children that are not mine. I am obligated to pay the collection since the collection was prior to our marriage and it is for child support to his exwife and his children ?

STORIES

  • He told me that I could actually get all the money I needed by using my home as collateral. . .
  • I just helped my mother, age 89, deal with her Medicare HMO. . .
  • If you get a divorce, make sure your date of birth is on the Decree if your name is changing!. . .

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