What Is a Motion for Default Judgement?

A motion for default judgment is a request that the court provide a default judgement when the defendant fails to respond to the complaint within the time allotted by the court. A default judgement is an award ordered in favor of the party who filed the complaint.

Certain guidelines must be met before a court can consider a default judgement. The plaintiff must have the defendant served, and the defendant has to have adequate time to respond. In Utah, for example, the response has to be within 21 days if the defendant is served within the state, and 30 days if served out of state. After this time, a response from the defendant may still be considered, or the judge may issue an order of default, which does not award an amount, but only says the defendant is liable to the plaintiff. The court may order a default judgement or give the defendant time to respond to the order of default.

Once an order of default is issued, the defendant may file a motion to vacate, which is a written request to undo the order of default. A motion to strike a default judgement can be filed if a default judgement has already been ordered. In either motion, the defendant must provide the reason he was unable to respond to the complaint or order in time, along with a legal and factual basis for his defense.