Reviving Judgments

Judgments issued by Colorado's County Court's are good for a period of six years.  Judgments issued by Colorado's District Court's are good for a period of 20 years.  In order for a judgment to continue past its expiration period, a judgment creditor must "revive" the judgment before the end of the six or 20 year period (whichever is applicable).  To do this, a creditor must file a Notice to Show Cause for Revival of Judgment and personally serve that on the Judgment Debtor.  Once served, a judgment debtor will have 14 days to show cause as to why the judgment should not be revived.  If you have been served with a Notice to Show Cause for Revival of Judgment, you should contact an experienced attorney to discuss your options. 

Setting Aside a Default Judgement

If a default judgment has entered against you, it may be possible to set the judgment aside, depending on the circumstances.  Whether a court will set aside a default judgment depends on many things, including what court you are in and the reason for the default.  Most courts favor judging cases on their merits and are inclined to set aside a default judgment if there is a meritorious reason to do so.  

Most debt collection actions are brought in Colorado's County Courts.  These cases are initiated when a Plaintiff (the debt collector) serves a defendant (the alleged debtor) with a Summons and Complaint.   The Summons will indicate a date by which the defendant must either file an Answer or appear in court on that date.  If a defendant fails to file an Answer or appear in court, the judge will grant a default judgment in favor of the Plaintiff.  If this happens, it is important for the defendant to act quickly and file a motion to set aside the default judgment.  In the motion, a defendant must explain why you were unable to file an Answer or appear in court.  Colorado law allows judges to set aside the default judgment for a number of reasons including for "excusable neglect."  A Colorado consumer lawyer can explain all of the avenues you can take to set aside a default and can give you your best chance of winning your motion.  

Importantly, if a defendant wins the motion to set aside, the case is not over; quite the opposite.  Once the judgment is set aside, the case will start over and the defendant will again be given a deadline to file and Answer or appear in court.  Defendants should be very aware of this date as a judge will not be as incline to set aside a second default judgment.  

How Much Does it Cost to File Bankruptcy in Colorado?

If you have called around to bankruptcy lawyers in Colorado to ask how much it costs to file bankruptcy, you are probably frustrated their answers.  Most bankruptcy lawyers will not quote a price for their services until they have analyzed your case.  This is because bankruptcy attorneys generally charge a flat-fee instead of the more typical hourly-fee charged by attorneys.  Some bankruptcy lawyers advertise set rates (e.g. "$499 Bankruptcy!"), however, many of these firms do not honor the advertised rates for clients with complicated cases.  

In the Denver, Colorado area, attorney fees for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy typically range from about $1,000 to $5,000 or more (again, depending on the complexity of your bankruptcy).  There is also a filing fee of $335 which is paid to the bankruptcy court and is in addition to any attorney fees that you pay.  If you are considering filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Colorado, it is wise to consult with multiple bankruptcy attorneys to ensure you're not paying too much in fees.  

Attorney fees in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy are more complicated.  In Colorado, the Court has set a "presumptive fee" of $4,100 for attorneys; however, attorney fees can be much higher than that in complicated cases.  The good news is that attorney fees can be paid through your Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Plan and they do not have to be paid in full prior to filing your case.  Many bankruptcy lawyers in Denver charge some portion of the presumptive fee before filing (it is not uncommon for attorneys to want 1/2 of the $4,100 fee before filing).  In addition to the attorney fees, there is also a $310 filing fee which must be paid to the Court.  

Ultimately, whether you are filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy or Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Colorado, the cost  will depend on how complex your case will be.  By meeting with multiple Colorado bankruptcy attorneys, you can make sure you pay a fair price for the services you receive.  

What is Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?

A Chapter 13 bankruptcy requires a person to repay some of his or her debts (unlike a Chapter 7 liquidation).  Although there can be benefits to a Chapter 13, generally, people file Chapter 13 because they make too much money to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.  

In a Chapter 13, a debtor must pay some money back to creditors over a period of 3-5 years.  The length of a Chapter 13 plan and the payment amount depends on a person's income, family size and other factors.  In order for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy to proceed, the Chapter 13 repayment plan must be approved by a bankruptcy judge.  While the amount a person must repay in a Chapter 13 depends on that person's income, it is important to note that a person must pay at least as much in a Chapter 13 as creditors would receive had that same person filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection.  

Some people choose to file Chapter 13 even thought they would qualify for a Chapter 7.  This is because Chapter 13 bankruptcy offers some benefits that a Chapter 7 does not.  One benefit is the ability to cure arrears on a primary residence.  If a person is behind on their mortgage payments, they can use a portion of their Chapter 13 plan payments to cure those mortgage arrears.  Similarly, debtors can repay their tax debt through a Chapter 13.  Tax debt is generally considered a "priority debt" and will be repaid before most other creditors.  Finally, there are certain debts which can be discharged in a Chapter 13 but not in a Chapter 7.  

If you are considering filing for bankruptcy protection in Colorado, it is important to discuss your case with an experienced Colorado bankruptcy attorney.  Whether you should file a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13 depends on many factors and making the wrong decision can be very costly.  At Aguero Law, we have helped hundreds of clients determine which chapter of bankruptcy is right for them.  If you have questions about which chapter of bankruptcy to file, call us today for a free consultation.  

Colorado's New Bankruptcy Exemptions

On July 1, 2015, amendments to Colorado's bankruptcy exemptions will take effect.  The amendments will increase the amount of many of the exemptions for people seeking bankruptcy protection. This means that Chapter 7 debtors can protect more of their assets from liquidation and Chapter 13 can potentially pay less to their creditors.  

One of the major changes is the increase in the homestead exemption.  With home prices on the rise in Colorado, this is a major protection for bankruptcy debtors.  The homestead exemption will increase from $60,000 to $75,000 for individuals under 60 years of age and will increase from $90,000 to $115,000 for individuals over 60 years old.  

Similarly, the vehicle exemption will rise from $5,000 to $7,500 for those under 60 and from $10,000 to $12,500 for those over 60.  However, whereas the old law allowed you to exempt multiple vehicles, the new law only allows you to exempt 2 vehicles.  This can be a problem for individuals who are titled on their kids' cars.  If you are considering bankruptcy and you own more than 2 vehicles, talk to an experienced Colorado bankruptcy attorney before transferring any vehicles out of your name.  The law also clarified that the exemption does not apply to RV's ATV's, snowmobiles, boats, trailers and other small vehicles.  

Many in Colorado were hoping that the law changes would include a "wild card" exemption, allowing people to exempt items of their choosing that were not protected by any other law.  This change was not made and Colorado continues to have no "wild card" exemption.  This means that if a person's property is not protected by a certain Colorado bankruptcy exemption, that property could be subject to liquidation in bankruptcy.  If you're considering filing bankruptcy in Colorado, talk to an experienced Colorado bankruptcy attorney regarding all of Colorado bankruptcy exemptions.