A monetary judgment is a legal determination that one person owes money to another person. Sometimes, a creditor will obtain a default judgment against a debtor. This happens when the debtor does not appear for court and the judge enters a judgment against her in her absence. When that happens, the debtor may be able to reverse, or vacate in legal terms, the judgment. Vacating a judgment is not the same as appealing, nor does it mean that the debtor does not legally owe the money. When a judgment is reversed, or vacated, it simply puts the parties back in the position they were in before the judge entered the default judgment.
Obtain a copy of the judgment entered against you by the court. A copy may generally be obtained by contacting the court either in person, or by mail, and requesting a copy.
Prepare a motion to vacate judgment. Most small claims courts will have a form that may be used to prepare the motion. If a form is not available, the information that must be contained in the motion usually includes: names of the court and both parties; cause or case number; date that the judgment was entered and amount; a statement regarding the reason why the judgment should be vacated; and a statement that you have a meritorious defense to the lawsuit.
Make at least two copies of the motion. One will be served on the original plaintiff, or creditor, and the other is for your records.
File the motion with the court where the original judgment was entered.
Serve the original plaintiff, or creditor, with the motion. Allowable methods of service will vary by jurisdiction but generally include certified mail, or service by the civil sheriff or a process server.
Appear for court at the date and time set by the court if appropriate. In some cases, the court will vacate the judgment without setting a hearing while in others the court will require the parties to appear to discuss the motion.
You must have a good reason for vacating the judgment. The most common reason is that you were not properly served with notice of the hearing or trial. In addition, most courts require that you have a "meritorious defense" to the underlying lawsuit, meaning you must also plan to defend the lawsuit if the court vacates the outstanding judgment and gives you another chance.