If you're being sued by a creditor for an unpaid debt but you're in the process of filing bankruptcy, you may be wondering if you need to show up to your court date for the creditor's lawsuit against you. It will depend on when your court date is and where you're at in the process of filing your bankruptcy case. If you haven't filed your bankruptcy case by the court date for your creditor's lawsuit against you, make sure you attend the hearing. Otherwise, the judge can potentially grant a default judgment against you simply because you didn’t show up. If you have filed your bankruptcy case, it's still a good idea to show up to the hearing to let the judge know. Or you can contact the court clerk prior to the court date to let them know and see what they advise.
Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer.
Updated August 27, 2021
If you're considering filing a bankruptcy case, you have probably been struggling with your finances for some time. This means that some of your debts may have been charged off by the original creditor and sent to collections. Some creditors or collections agencies may even be suing you to try to collect the past-due debt. If this is the case, you're probably wondering whether or not you need to respond to the creditor's lawsuit.
Your response will depend on when the court date is for the creditor's lawsuit and where you are in the process of filing your bankruptcy case. If you haven't filed your bankruptcy case by the court date, make sure you attend the hearing. Otherwise, the judge may grant a default judgment against you simply because you didn’t show up.
If you filed your bankruptcy case just a few days before your court date, it’s best to attend the hearing so you can tell the court and the creditor that sued you that you've filed bankruptcy. If you call the court clerk’s office a day or so before your court date to tell them about your bankruptcy, they may tell you that you no longer have to show up. This process tends to be different from court to court, so it's best to check in either via phone or in person.
Once your bankruptcy is filed —whether it’s right before the court date or weeks before — you need to let the court and the opposing party know. Since banks and businesses can’t represent themselves in court, your best bet is to call their lawyer. For the court, again a quick call to the clerk’s office to let them know so they can make a notation in your case docket should do the trick. The creditor that sued you is responsible for making sure that the lawsuit doesn’t continue, but it never hurts to loop the court and the court staff in early.
So, as soon as you have your bankruptcy case number, call the other side’s lawyer. Let them know that you just filed bankruptcy and what your case number is. They’ll typically take it from there, as the automatic stay is nothing to be messed with. Creditors and their lawyers know that they can get in serious trouble if they continue with a lawsuit or other collection actions once an automatic stay is in effect.