How does one respond to a summons?

UPDATED: Nov 10, 2011

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How does one respond to a summons?

I received a summons complain from a law firm representing a collection agency. I have some questions about this. I called the law firm listed on it, which ended in them trying to see how much I could pay on the debt (which is nothing, at the moment). I offered to pay $50 a month, they said the collection agency wants at least $105 (I owe $2,896+$472 interest). They said to fax them a letter with my offer, along with W2, tax returns and last 3 bank statements. Should I send those statements/return? Can I still settle now that it’s gone this far (court)? Should I send a letter to the Judge stating my attempts at settling? What are my options, and how do I go about doing it?

Asked on November 10, 2011 under Bankruptcy Law, Michigan


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

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Don't send the W-2, tax returns or bank statement.  That could provide information the opposing party could use to obtain a wage garnishment to enforce a judgment against you.  You need to file an answer to the complaint.  If you don't file an answer to the complaint, the opposing party's attorney will file a default which means you will have lost the case because you did not timely file an answer to the complaint with the court and serve it by mail on the opposing party within the time period stated in the summons.  If judgment by default is entered against you, you will need to file a motion to set aside the default.  If the judge grants your motion to set aside the default, the case will then be back on track and litigation will continue.

You and the opposing party can try to negotiate a settlement after you file an answer to the complaint to prevent judgment by default from being entered against you.  Settlement negotiations can continue at later stages of litigation.  The answer to the complaint denies the allegations in the complaint.  At the law library, look for answer to complaint in the index of Pleading and Practice.  This will give you the general format for an answer to a 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 your answer to the complaint with an attached proof of service with the court.  The proof of service verifies the date of mailing to the opposing party or in this case the opposing party's attorney.  You can either use a court form proof of service or you can write your own.  If you write your own proof of service, it just says that you are at least 18 and the attached documents were sent via first class mail unless stated otherwise to ___________ (name and address of opposing attorney) on _______ (date).  You sign and date at the bottom.  The date you sign should be the same date you mail the documents to the opposing party and the same date you file the answer to the complaint with the court.


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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