I Missed My Court Hearing. Can I Ask for Another?
If you, the defendant, did not appear at your hearing the court will probably have entered a default judgment against you. This means you lost the case.
If you had a very good reason why you did not show up, you may file a motion to ask the court to cancel (“vacate”) this judgment and hold another hearing.
(See California Code of Civil Procedure, Section 116.730)
How long you have to file this motion depends on whether or not you were
- If you were properly served and did not appear, you have 30 days from the date the court mailed the Notice of Entry of Judgment (Form SC-130) to file your request.
- If you were improperly served (for example, the plaintiff had an incorrect name for you) and did not appear, you have 180 days from the date you knew, or should have known that the judgment was entered against you, to file your request.
TIP: The judgment creditor can start collecting the judgment debt after 30 days have passed from the date the court mailed you the Notice of Entry of Judgment (Form SC-130), so it is good to act quickly, even if you have 180 days to file.
To ask the court to cancel (“vacate”) the judgment
Step 1. Get and fill out 1 court form:
- Notice of Motion to Vacate Judgment and Declaration (Form SC-135)
Make at least 2 copies of the form – one to serve on the judgment creditor, and one copy for your own files.
Step 2. File the form at the court and pay the court’s filing fee.
- The court clerk will give you a date for the hearing,
- The court clerk will mail a copy of the Notice of Motion to Vacate Judgment (Form SC-135) to the other side.
Step 3. Attend the hearing on the Motion to Vacate the Judgment.
At the hearing on the Motion to Vacate the Judgment, the judge will decide whether or not to cancel the judgment.
Bring proof of why you couldn’t go to your first hearing -- for example, a letter from a doctor or a hospital bill.
- If the judge decides to cancel the judgment, he or she may immediately hold a new trial. Be prepared to defend your case.
- Bring evidence or witnesses you need to prove your case.
- Be fully prepared to tell your side of the story.
- If the judge decides not to cancel the judgment (called “denial of the motion”), it is possible to appeal this decision.
- You have 10 days to file an appeal.
- To do this, fill out and file a Notice of Appeal (Form SC-140)
Contact the Small Claims Advisor in your county for more information.
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