How do you write an answer to a summons over debt collection?

UPDATED: Aug 12, 2012

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How do you write an answer to a summons over debt collection?

I can’t afford a lawyer and need to answer a summons on my own. However, I am not capable of answering it competently. I am a competent individual, I’m just not knowledgeable about legal “mumbo jumbo” and would like to handle this as professional as possible.

Asked on August 12, 2012 under Bankruptcy Law, Ohio


S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

At the law library, look for answer to complaint (complaint is the lawsuit attached to the summons you received) in the index of Pleading and Practice.  This will give you the general format for an answer to a complaint.  The answer to the complaint denies the allegations in the complaint.  At the end of the answer is the verification which you sign and date under penalty of perjury.  The verification attests to the veracity of your statements in the answer.  File the answer and verification with an attached proof of service with the court and serve a copy by mail on the opposing party's attorney or if no attorney on the opposing party.  You can use a court form proof of service or you can write your own.  The proof of service confirms the date of mailing.  If you write your own proof of service, it just says that you are at least eighteen and the attached documents were sent via first class mail unless stated otherwise to ____________ (name and address of opposing attorney or opposing party if no attorney) on __________ (date).  You sign and date the proof of service at the bottom.  The date you sign should be the same as the date of mailing and the same date you file your documents with the court.

You will need to file your answer to the complaint with the court and serve it by mail on the opposing party within the time specified in the summons for your response.  If you don't file a timely answer to the complaint, the opposing party can obtain a default judgment against you.  A default judgment means you have lost.  If that happens, you will need to file a motion to set aside the default.  If the court grants your motion to set aside the default, the case is then back on track and litigation will continue.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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