What is a Warrant in Debt?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A warrant in debt is a legal filing which provides notice to someone that she or he is being sued to recover a debt. When someone is served with a warrant in debt, it provides information about the scheduled date for a court appearance and the document also indicates who is filing the suit, the amount of the debt, and other information which may be relevant to the case. It is very important to respond to a warrant in debt, even if someone believes that the filing is frivolous.

Woman with hand on her hip
Woman with hand on her hip

The warrant in debt is a form of notice-based pleading. The debtor must be informed that the warrant has been filed and must be provided with information about where and when to appear to respond to the pleading. People who need to file a warrant in debt can often find blank legal forms which they can fill in with the relevant information to ensure that their filing will comply with the law and provide full and complete information for the debtor.

Someone who receives a warrant in debt is not obliged to go to court, and will not be arrested or otherwise compelled to attend court. However, when someone fails to respond on the court date, the court can enter a default judgment against the debtor which allows the creditor to take action immediately. The warrant in debt is also used as the first step in garnishment proceedings in some areas. People who do not appear in court will receive correspondence about the default judgment which was entered.

A lawyer should be consulted when a warrant in debt is received. The lawyer can provide assistance with responding. If there is a compelling reason someone cannot attend court on a given day it may be possible to reschedule. In court, the lawyer can respond to the pleading and may be able to have the pleading dismissed, or work out a reduction of the debt with a workable payment plan. Showing up in court, in other words, provides people with more options.

It is also advisable to collect any and all documentation relating to the debt before going to court. This includes any communications received from the creditor which may shed light upon the matter or may disprove claims made by the creditor. This also includes canceled checks, bank statements, and other financial documentation which provides information about when the debt was incurred and which steps were taken to repay the debt.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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