If I get served with papers regarding a debt, what should I do?

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If I get served with papers regarding a debt, what should I do?

I haven’t been serve yet but someone called my parents home asking for me I said that person didn’t live there because I don’t live there. They said they would be sending someone out to serve me. I have no way to pay right now I have been wanting to go into bankruptcy but I have no money for that. I’m not working I have no means of money but what my husband brings in and we just get by.

Asked on July 13, 2011 under Bankruptcy Law, California

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If you are served with the summons and complaint, you will need to file an answer to the complaint with the court.  The complaint is the lawsuit attached to the summons.  The summons will tell you the amount of time you have to file your answer with the court.  In CA, this is 30 days from the date you are served.  If you do not file the answer to the complaint and serve it on the plaintiff (party suing you) within 30 days, you will lose by default.  Then, you will need to file a motion to set aside the default.

The answer to the complaint denies the allegations in the complaint.  At the law library, look in the index of California Forms of Pleading and Practice for answer to complaint.  This will give you the general format for an answer and sample answers.  At the end of the answer is the verification which you should include and sign and date under penalty of perjury.  When you file your answer to the complaint with the court, attach a proof of service which verifies the date of mailing to the plaintiff.  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 over 18 and the attached document(s) was/were sent via first class mail unless specified otherwise to ____________ (name and address of party suing you) on __________ (date).  You sign and date at the bottom under penalty of perjury.  The date you sign should be the same as the mailing date and the same date you file your answer with the court.

As for filing bankruptcy, it would be premature to file bankruptcy until there is a judgment against you.  If you have other creditors and are filing bankruptcy, include this present creditor who is suing you even though this particular creditor has not yet obtained a judgment against you.  You and your husband will both need to file bankruptcy; otherwise if only you file bankruptcy, the creditors will still go after your husband.


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