Don’t mess with Texas – or a Judgment against you anywhere!


Although I’m a Maryland and D.C. attorney a recent Texas child support case makes the point that you should never ignore a lawsuit and probably need an attorney to deal with it or any judgment that is ever entered against you.

A Texas man, Gabriel Cornejo, was recently ordered to pay his ex-girlfriend $65,000.00 in back child support for a child that is not biologically his even after a DNA test last year proved he is not the father.

People get default judgments against them all the time, ususally because they didn’t file an answer to a complaint or didn’t show up for court.

More frequently than you’d think someone comes into my office with a judgment, that they didn’t know about, against them for thousands, or tens of thousands, of dollars. Often this is because the Plaintiff claimed to have served them with the Complaint but really didn’t. This can happen when someone with a similar name is served or the process server claims to have served anther individual “living” with the defendant.

In Maryland, interest accrues on the judgment at the rate of 10% so a $20,000.00 judgment becomes $22,000.00 just one year later. In two years its $24,000.00, and in three years . . . You can imagine how the number grows for a judgment that catches up to you years later.

The Texas case involving $65,000.00 in back child support from 2003 is because an ex-girlfriend claimed there was no way that Cornejo was not the father of her child although he was not present for any 2003 hearing on paternity or support.

Cornejo claims that he never knew about the child support order until last year when he took a paternity test to proved he was not the child’s father. Allegedly there are court documents that “suggest, but don’t prove,” that Cornejo was served a subpoena years ago about the child support, but the court entered judgment anyway.

The lesson for anyone with a default judgment is that you can fight it, even years later, but the longer you wait the harder it will be to prove you weren’t served. In Maryland, evidence that you knew about the judgment, or found out at some point, can start the clock ticking for a reasonable amount of time after which no judge will let you try to vacate the judgment.

If you find out that there is a judgment against you, don’t stick your head in the sand and hope it goes away. Take action sooner rather than later as the problem, judgment, and interest, will only get worse.

About Tim Leahy

Timothy P. Leahy, a partner at the firm, practices law in Maryland and the District of Columbia and is a member of the American, Maryland, D.C, and Prince George’s County Bar associations. He received his J.D., cum laude, from the University of Baltimore Law School in May 2000, earned his M.B.A. in 1993 at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business, and his B.S. in Transportation & Logistics at Maryland in 1990. Timothy brings over 10 years experience in business to his practice of the law and focuses on litigation and general practice matters. A former home improvement contractor and army reservist, he volunteers with Christmas in April and has coached for the Bowie Boys & Girls Club. He is a Board member of his homeowners association, pro bono counsel for Bowie CLAW, and a volunteer Mediator for the District Court of Maryland. Timothy moved to Bowie in 1982 and lives there with his wife of 24 years and two sons.
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