How do I respond in writing to a complaint against me regarding a debt, and what will happen if I don’t respond?

UPDATED: Sep 15, 2011

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How do I respond in writing to a complaint against me regarding a debt, and what will happen if I don’t respond?

I was served with papers yesterday, a bank suing me for the credit card debt I owe. I have no money or employment and am in school at this time. I am summoned to answer in writing to the court. If I don’t, it says a judgment by default will be taken against me. If I do respond in writing will it do any good, and what would I need to right? If I do not respond will it just be sent to another collection agency to collect from me?

Asked on September 15, 2011 under Bankruptcy Law, Utah


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

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

You  will need to file an answer to the complaint within the time period stated in the summons.  If you don't respond, you will lose by default. 

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 you sign and date under penalty of perjury.  File the answer to the complaint with the attached verification and an attached proof of service with the court and mail a copy to the opposing party's attorney or if no attorney, the opposing party.

The proof of service verifies the date of mailing.  You can 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 or if no opposing attorney, the opposing party) 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 the documents with the court.

If you don't file an answer to the complaint, you will lose the case by default and a judgment will be entered against you.  If that happens, you will need to file a motion to set aside the default.  If the court grants the motion to set aside the default, the case is back on track and litigation will proceed.

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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