What to do if I’m being sued for a credit card debt and have been served legal papers but I have no money to pay it off?

I am willing for them to do a payroll deduction as I don’t have a bank account. I don’t know what to expect. I have never been sued before and don’t know what to expect.

Asked on September 24, 2012 under Bankruptcy Law, South Carolina


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

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

You will need to file with the court an answer to the complaint (the complaint is the lawsuit attached to the summons) and serve by mail a copy of your answer to the complaint on the opposing party or opposing party's attorney within the time set forth in the summons.  If you don't timely file your answer to the complaint with the court and serve a copy by mail on the opposing party or opposing party's attorney, the opposing party will obtain a default judgment against you.  A default judgment means you will have lost the case.  If that happens, you will need to file a motion to set aside the default with the court and serve a copy on the oppoisng party or opposing party's attorney.  If the court grants your motion to set aside the default, the case will be back on track and litigation will continue.

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.  The answer denies the allegations in the complaint.  At the end of the answer is the verification which attests to the veracity of your statements in the answer.  Sign and date the verification under penalty of perjury.  File your answer to the complaint with verification and an attached proof of service with the court and serve a copy by mail on the opposing party if no attorney or opposing attorney.  The proof of service verifies the date of mailing.  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 eighteen years of age and the attached documents were sent via first class mail unless stated otherwise to __________ (name and address of opposing attorney or party without an 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.

By proceeding through the various phases of litigation, you will be able to postpone the credit card company obtaining a judgment against you.  If the credit card company eventually obtains a judgment against you which you cannot afford to pay, you may want to consider filing bankruptcy.  Chapter 7 bankruptcy is straight liquidation which eliminates certain types of debt.


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