Becka is being sued by credit card company
Becka: Yes, good morning. I have received a notice in the mail that I'm being sued I guess, in small claims court by a credit card company.
Attorney Tom Olsen: All right.
Becka: My husband lost his job, a couple job losses.
Attorney Tom Olsen: Becka, is this happening in Florida, by the way?
Becka: It is, yes.
Attorney Tom Olsen: Becka, even in small claims court, as far as I know, the only way to get service on process on a lawsuit is that somebody hands, puts a copy of the lawsuit in your hands.
Attorney Tom Olsen: So it doesn't make sense to me that you would get a copy of a lawsuit by mail.
Becka: I don't know how I got it, I'll tell you what triggers me to know is I've started repeating gazillion notices from lawyers--
Attorney Tom Olsen: Okay. That's an indication.
Becka: --saying that "A court date has been set", "You're being sued by so and so for that".
Attorney Tom Olsen: Becka, have they named both your husband and you as defendants or just your husband?
Becka: Just me.
Attorney Tom Olsen: Just you?
Attorney Tom Olsen: And Becka, how much are they suing you for?
Becka: About 3,000.
Attorney Tom Olsen: Okay. So Becka, what can I do for you?
Becka: Well, my question to you is-- I don't have 3,000 USD, I would like to make the debt clean, I've never experienced where I wasn't able to pay my bills.
Attorney Tom Olsen: Okay.
Becka: My question really is, if I go to court, is it typical that they will demand the 3,000 immediately?
Attorney Tom Olsen: Becka, the good news is that in small claims court, before you ever see a judge, they're going to make you go through mediation. A representative of the credit card company will show up with you and a mediator; and Becka, that would be a great time for you to negotiate your way out of this. So what I'm saying is that if you owe them 3,000 bucks, you might go to them and say, "Look, I will give you $1,000. I don't have $1,000, but I'll borrow $1,000 dollars if I have to pay you off and pay you in full". So what I'm saying is just that they will probably take less than payment in full and call it even with you.
Becka: Okay. Is it normally a lump sum? Because that's my dilemma. I don't have a big lump sum that I can borrow or get my hands on. I can start to make payments over the course of six months.
Attorney Tom Olsen: Yes, well the distinction, Becka, is that if you offer them a lump sum, they are going to be more willing to negotiate with you. If you're saying, "Hey, I want to negotiate a lower payment and I want to pay it to you over six months or a year, they're less likely to do that for you.
Attorney Tom Olsen: Becka, let me tell you some, call it "good news" if you want to, and that is this: In the state of Florida, when somebody sues just the wife, like you, they cannot touch any assets that are owned by both the husband and the wife. If you're like most married couples, you own everything jointly with your husband. And that means they can sue you all day long and they can't touch anything that you own.
Becka: Okay. What would they typically do, put a lean on our property?
Attorney Tom Olsen: No, what they would typically do is number one: finish the lawsuit, get a judgment against you; it's a piece of paper. And this case is going to be for a principle, court cost and attorney's fees if we're talking credit card, okay? Then once they get that judgment against you, they are going to give you notice of taking your deposition and they are going to make you bring copies of tax returns, deeds, trust, bank statements and everything; two-page list. And they are going to take a look at what kind of assets that you own that they can go after. And Becka, in this case it may be nothing. But once again, it would give you an opportunity to say, "Look guys, now I owe you $4,000 by the time you had on court cost and attorney fees, I'll give you X amount of dollars as payment full if you accept that". So Becka, my best wishes to you.