Worried About Foreclosure? What You Should Know

Q.: I am behind in my mortgage payments and worried about foreclosure. What, exactly, is a foreclosure?

A.: A foreclosure is a type of lawsuit in which a lender (such as a bank or mortgage company) sues a borrower who has failed to make his or her mortgage payments. The lender seeks a court order to sell the house to raise money to pay off the debt.

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Bankruptcy is the means under the United States Constitution by which people and companies may obtain relief from their debts. Under the Constitution, Congress has been granted the ability to pass uniform laws on bankruptcy and, most recently, passed the Bankruptcy Code (Title 11 of the United States Code) in 1978. The Bankruptcy Code has been amended several times since 1978, with the most extensive changes made in 2005. There is, however, no constitutional right to relief, or a discharge, from debts. Bankruptcy relief is only available to the extent Congress provides.

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After Foreclosure: What You Should Know

Q.: I just found out that the mortgage company is foreclosing on my house! What do I do?

A.: Once you receive a copy of a foreclosure lawsuit, you have only 28 days in which to formally respond to the court. If you do not respond, a "default judgment" may be filed against you, meaning that the court assumes that you do not dispute the bank's allegations and will enter a monetary judgment against you plus an order to have your house sold to satisfy the debt. Anytime a lawsuit is filed against you, you should consider talking to an attorney to discuss your options and responses.

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